MUSIC IAN S
WHO RECORD EXCLUSIVELY FOR
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Dame CLARA BUTT
and KENNERLEY RUMFORD
Sir HENRY J. WOOD
Conducting the NEW QUEEN'S
(Proprietors - Chappell & Co., Ltd.)
YSAYE (Violin) CASALS ('Cello)
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A biographical Record of
the contemporary stage
Edited by JOHN PARKER
THIS popular work consists of
(1) A universal biographical dictionary of the more
prominent personages connected with the con-
temporary stage, including Managers, Dramatists,
Musical Composers, Critics, as well as Artists.
(2) A complete list of plays which have had runs of
more than one hundred performances on the
(3) A Calendar of notable theatrical events.
(4) Mr. J. M. Bulloch's Genealogical Tables of
(5) An exhaustive dramatical and musical obituary.
(6) Full particulars of the principal theatres in
London, Paris, New York, etc.
A The book has been most carefully p
UVCl compiled, and is acknowledged to if ICC
be the most comprehensive reposi-
Sim tor Y of theatrical data in exist-
l,tJUU ence The new edition has been
brought thoroughly up to date.
Pd6S pun particulars, post jree.
The . . . Who's Who in the Theatre '
DAILY MAIL says : is undoubtedly the best and
most useful directory of the
stage ever compiled."
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You have never heard your gramophone at its best unless
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phonists prefer a wholesome leavening of present-day music.
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production of the Winner Record, the specific difference
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THE TALKING MACHINE
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Per Box IFIW H Per Box
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Needles \lBIEMH W Needles
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PITMAN'S COMMON COMMODITIES
ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND REVIEWER
"TALKING MACHINE NEWS "
SIR ISAAC PITMAN & SONS, LTD.
PARKER STREET, KINGSWAY, W.C.2
BATH, MELBOURNE, TORONTO, NEW YORK
On a Gramophone
It guarantees a musical instrument of the
highest grade, beautifully designed and
perfectly finished in every part.
On a Record
It stands for the best in music of every
variety. It stands for the best artistes
of every kind, and for the best material
in the record.
The Gramophone Co., Ltd.
363=367 Oxford Street, London, W.I
IN writing this little book, I have endeavoured, as far
as possible, to avoid all technicalities and abstruse
phraseology. In short, my aim has been to make it
" understanded of the people." For guidance, I have
dipped liberally into my friend Mr. Henry Seymour's
illuminating volume entitled The Reproduction of Sound,
the most valuable work on the subject I know. Also,
I have delved into Tyndall's Lectures on Sound, and
have, of course, rummaged through the Encyclopaedia
Britannica. Mainly, however, I have obtained my
information from back numbers of The Talking Machine
News, the oldest paper entirely devoted to the trade in
the world. It is now entering upon the twentieth year
of its existence, and still flourishes. Nor must I fail to
acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Chas. E. Timms,
the indefatigable secretary of the Association of Gramo-
phone and Musical Instrument Manufacturers and
Wholesale Dealers, for his admirable account of the
foundation, rise and progress of his association ; a most
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PREFACE . ix
I. A HISTORICAL SURVEY .... 1
II. THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE . . 10
III. HOW THE TALKING MACHINE WAS BROUGHT
TO ENGLAND ..... 22
IV. THE DISC MACHINE ..... 31
V. MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. . . 43
VI. HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE . 62
VII. THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES . 72
VIII. ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS ... 84
IX. GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES . 94
X. THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER . . 103
APPENDIX . . . . . .112
realism, the beauty of tone, and the
perfect clearness of the " Cliftophone " are
impossible to imagine unless you have actually
heard it. The " Cliftophone " plays ordinary
gramophone records, but with extraordinary
faithfulness to the original performance.
LEFF POUISHNOFF (the celebrated pianist)." I was
simply astounded. . . . Your Cliftophone was a real
delight to hear, and I should like to congratulate you on the
benefit you will confer on music-lovers, all of whom will
certainly desire to possess one. . . . The illusion of reality
EUGENE GOOSSENS (the talented composer and conduc-
tor). " .... Amazed and delighted with your wonderful
invention. For sheer volume and quality of tone the
' Cliftophone ' is a revelation."
FRANK BROADBENT (the eminent voice trainer). " I
want to congratulate you on an immense stride in the
evolution of sound reproducers. For the first time I have
heard beauty of vocal tone, faithfully reproduced, added
to an infinitely clearer enunciation of the words."
Deferred Payments arranged to suit every purchaser,
A cordial invitation is extended to Music Lovers to
hear personally the beauties of the " Cliftophone."
If unable to call write for illustrated Booklet " D."
THE CHAPPELL PIANO COMPANY, LTD.
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THE FIRST TALKING MACHINE IN THE WORLD Frontispiece
SOUND WAVES MAGNIFIED . . . . .11
SOUND WAVES MAGNIFIED . . . . .12
MADAME GALLI-CURCI ...... 20
AN ALGRAPHONE ....... 33
" HIS MASTER'S VOICE " PORTABLE GRAMOPHONE . 34
SINGLE SPRING MOTOR WITH TURNTABLE . . 45
THE TRIPLE SPRING MOTOR UNIT OF A COLUMBIA
INSTRUMENT ....... 46
A TYPICAL SOUND BOX ...... 48
THE EXHIBITION SOUND BOX ..... 50
A TYPICAL TABLE GRAND MODEL OF THE COLUMBIA
GRAFONOLA ....... 54
UNUSED CHROMIC NEEDLE RUNNING IN GROOVE . 57
NEEDLES SHOWING WEAR BY CONTACT WITH RECORD 58
SIR HENRY J. WOOD CONDUCTING THE NEW QUEEN'S
HALL ORCHESTRA FOR A COLUMBIA RECORD . 64
MADAME ADELINA PATTI 85
CARICATURE OF CARUSO MAKING A RECORD, DRAWN
BY HIMSELF ....... 87
DAME NELLIE MELBA ...... 88
" HIS MASTER'S VOICE " GRAMOPHONE FOR SCHOOLS . 106
Let your Gramophone play
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THE WORLD RECORD
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THE TALKING MACHINE
A HISTORICAL SURVEY
TALKING machine is by no means an idea] name for an
invention which is now recognized by the most com-
petent authorities as a true musical instrument. It
is, however, the most comprehensive term which has yet
been found, for it embraces every type of apparatus
that has, up to now, been employed in the reproduction
of sound. Talking, indeed, is but a minor function of
the mechanism used at present, but it is not at all
improbable that the future will wicness wider develop-
ments in an educational direction which will render this
somewhat incongruous name more applicable. In the
United States of America the talking machine has been
for some years an important factor in the education of
the young. There is scarcely a school from Maine to
New Orleans or from New York to San Francisco into
which the gramophone or phonograph has not been
introduced. Later, in its proper place in our handbook,
this aspect of the invention will be discussed.
In the earliest ages primitive man was imbued with
the notion that inanimate objects could at times give
forth vocal utterance, and among remote savage tribes
at the present day the belief still holds good. By its
means the medicine man and the witch doctor impose
upon the less astute members of the community. In
like manner the sibyls and soothsayers of antiquity
2 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
duped the populace. The world- old spurious tales of
the voices of the gods, commanding and threatening
from rocks, caverns and waterfalls, were foisted upon
the believers, and the cunning ones waxed fat and
prosperous. The belief in such manifestations
was universal, and the truth of them accepted as
There is no record that the Sphinx ever spoke, but
modern excavations in the interior of that strange
monument of the past have revealed that, from a cham-
ber in the head, it might have been quite possible for
the priests to have answered the questions put by an
expectant multitude by means of a megaphone or some
such sound amplifying contrivance.
From that mysterious land of Egypt comes the first
corroborated account of vocal sound issuing from a
thing without life. More than 1,500 years before the
beginning of the Christian era there existed an Egyptian
monarch named Thothmes III, who had a son Amenophis
III, of. the XVIIIth Dynasty, who ruled from the Nile
to the Euphrates. Besides being a great ruler,
Amenophis was a great builder, and founded Luxor, the
Egyptian Thebes. He also added largely to Karnak.
Possibly he might be identified with the Memnon,
Prince of Ethiopia, who went to the aid of the Trojans
against the Greeks and was slain by Achilles, but this
is mere speculation, and has nothing to do with our
survey. At Thebes a mighty temple was erected,
with twin colossi at the gates carved out of black basalt.
It is certainly strange that in the Greek heroic story
Memnon is spoken of as black, and his head after death
is said to have prophesied, thus giving ground for the
supposition that the Trojan ally and the Egyptian
Pharoah were identical ; but again we are straying.
One of the colossal statues at Thebes has been from
A HISTORICAL SURVEY 3
time immemorial denominated Memnon, which would
possibly be the Greek form of Amenophis, and from the
head of this statue at dawn issued strange sounds.
It was not, however, until the Roman occupation of
Egypt that we get any distinct description of the
character of the noises. Strabo heard them in company
with Aelius Gallus and several of his friends, while
Pausanias says, one would compare the sound more
nearly to the broken chord of a harp or lute. Juvenal
and Tacitus also refer to the " vocal Memnon." These
are all fairly credible authorities, so that we must not
dismiss the ancient story with a sneer. Our own
Byron did not, for he sings of " The Ethiop King whose
statue turns a harper once a day." From the descrip-
tion by Pausanias we find that the sounds were more
musical than articulate. The statue, which was
shattered by an earthquake 27 B.C., was restored
A.D. 174, but whether the workmen engaged upon
the restoration removed the vocal mechanism or
destroyed some portion of the head from which the
sounds proceeded, will never be known. All that can
be said is that, since the latter year, the bust has
maintained a discreet silence.
Many theories have been advanced to account for
the sonorous property of old Memnon, but all have
failed to supply a satisfactory solution. The most
probable, in our estimation, would be that the early
morning breeze acted upon some hollow in the head and
so produced the harp-like twanging which attracted
the attention of listeners. In restoring the statue
this hollow may have been blocked up.
From Egypt to China is a long step, yet, if we are to
trace things in their proper chronological order, it is to
the latter country that we must now wing our way.
The path may be faint and shadowy, and the light
4 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
but a weak glimmer, yet we shall follow it as faithfully
as we can.
The Chinese seem to have developed a totally indepen-
dent civilization. Cut off as they were by huge mountain
ranges, vast deserts and wide ocean gulfs from the
gradually progressive races of Western Asia and the
Eastern Mediterranean, they set to work to build up
among themselves a system of culture which differed
entirely from that of other nations then slowly emerging
out of the dark. Their language, their customs, their
religion (Ancestor worship is believed to have been the
original teaching until Taoism, Confucianism and
Buddhism arrived) had no connection whatsoever with
Western evolution. They were the same two thousand
years ago as they were until Europeans in the middle
of the last century pierced the bulwarks the Yellow
Man had erected against the rest of the world. Even
to the present day the bulk of the population remain
adverse to foreign interference. Yet, in arts and several
of the sciences, the Chinese were in early days much in
advance of the Westerner. They lay claim to having
had a knowledge of various inventions and discoveries
long before these became the property of other peoples.
What wonder, then, that the talking machine, when it
appeared, was regarded by the Chinaman with his
Sir Robert Hart, than whom no Englishman ever
understood China with greater comprehension, having
spent the best part of his life there in an official capacity,
relates the following story. Fifty years before the
first talking machine was seen in Pekin, he was one day
in conversation with Kwang Tung, the Governor of
that city. This Peacock-feather Mandarin was a very
learned pundit, well versed in all the lore of his coun-
try, and he informed Sir Robert that an ancient book,
A HISTORICAL SURVEY 5
some two thousand years old, contained the record of a
most curious box. At least a thousand years before the
book was written a certain Chinese prince was in the
habit of communicating with another, who lived in a
district far apart. It was necessary that this correspon-
dence should be kept secret, so the prince spoke his
messages into a strange box which he sent by a trusty
bearer to his distant friend. When this friend opened
the box, he could actually hear the voice of the prince
speaking the words that had been originally spoken so
far away. It must be remembered that the conversa-
tion between Kwang Tung and Sir Robert Hart took
place before the talking machine, as we know it, was
invented. The tale is almost uncanny, but the word of
Sir Robert is not to be doubted. Had the Chinese
evolved the secret of the talking machine three thousand
years before it was dreamt of by Cros or Edison ?
We must now travel long ages through the misty
corridors of time before we gain intelligence of any
further reproduction of vocal sound. In the thirteenth
century lived Roger Bacon, the famous Franciscan monk,
He was an Englishman, born in Worcestershire, who
studied at Oxford, and there can be little doubt he was a
man far in advance of his age. By his strictures on the
pretentious ignorance of his fellow monks he incurred
the bitter hatred of the Church, and was imprisoned for
fourteen years in France. Many important discoveries
and inventions are attributed to him, but not all of
them on a solid basis of fact. Gunpowder, for instance,
was said to have been invented by him, whereas it
was known to the Arabs who got it from China,
before his day. However, with that we have nothing
Among other mechanical contrivances with which
he has been credited was the construction of a talking
6 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
machine. It was said to have spoken three words and
then relapsed into silence, which it could not be induced
again to break. In those superstitious days it was no
wonder that he was denounced as having been in league
with the Evil One, for the devil at that period was given
a good deal more than his due. We are afraid, however,
that the story is apocryphal, for the Encyclopaedia
Britannica tells us that careful research has shown
that very little in the department of mechanical discovery
can with accuracy be ascribed to him. So much, then,
for the Roger Bacon tale.
Albertus Magnus, Provincial of the Dominicans at
Cologne in the thirteenth century, is also credited with
the construction of a brazen head that spoke. It is
told that he worked at it for forty years and that then
it was smashed to atoms by his more famous pupil,
St. Thomas Aquinas, who committed the act in order
to show to the world the futility of man's labour, when
in one minute he could destroy that which had taken
the greater part of a lifetime to build up.
Some three hundred years later one Vaucanson put
together a famous duck which attracted extraordinary
attention. This curious automaton quacked like the
live bird, flapped its wings, gobbled grain and performed
various other feats which drew crowds to witness its
vagaries. It was, of course, nothing more than a
mechanical toy, but four hundred years ago it was a
wonder of the world.
This Vaucanson, who was a Parisian of good birth,
was a most ingenious fellow, for, besides the duck, he
contrived a mechanical flute-player nearly 6 ft. in height.
The figure held the instrument to its lips and moved the
fingers upon the stops while the flute gave forth familiar
airs. We are not informed where the breath came
from, but probably it was supplied by some bellows
A HISTORICAL SURVEY 7
arrangement like that employed by Faber in his speaking
automaton of 1860.
Then, in 1632, came a remarkable prototype of the
fabulous Baron Munchausen. This was a ship captain,
named Vasterlock, who had sailed the southern seas
as far as the Straits of Magellan and had a marvellous
yarn to tell. He related, with solemn countenance,
that the natives of that stormy region grew a wonderful
sponge, which, when spoken into, retained in its cells the
voice of the speaker. To reproduce the speech one had
only to squeeze the sponge and the accents were heard
distinctly. Such was the ignorance of the period that
many persons actually believed him.
The real Cyrano de Bergerac, who was a living per-
sonage, a poet and author of remarkable ability and
genius, and not the fictitious hero of a play, as too many
who have recently witnessed a very fine perfor-
mance have been apt to suppose the real Cyrano, in
his book L' Histoires Comiques des Etats de la Lune,
published in 1654, shadowed forth an instrument
which came very close in description to our modern
talking machine. Poor de Bergerac was a man of vast
imagination, and had he combined it with constructive
power, we might have had gramophones two hundred
and fifty years ago.
There is a curious story which we read in an American
paper not long since, but have been unable to verify.
It concerns John Wesley, the eminent founder of the
religious sect bearing his name, and, if true, would
show that a big stride had been taken in his time towards
the production of vocal sounds by mechanical means.
Wesley was on one of his long preaching tours, and had
crossed to Ireland. In a small town of the West he came
upon a poor clock-maker, who showed him an extra-
ordinary timepiece that the man had constructed
8 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
with his own hands. Instead of striking the hours, it
announced them in deep, sonorous tones exactly like
the sound of a human voice. The preacher marvelled
greatly, and asked the man why he had not exploited
his invention. The reply was that poverty prevented
him, he had not even the means to purchase the materials
to produce another clock on the same lines. Wesley
gave him all the money he could spare, which was not
much, and rode away. A few years later the great
preacher was in Ireland again, and looked up his old
friend the clock-maker. Alas ! there was a great
change. Sunk into abject misery, his hopes, which had
once been high, had given place to despair. The clock
was there, but utterly ruined by neglect, and the old
man's mind was tottering on the verge of collapse.
Sadly Wesley left him, and that is how the story ends.
If true, it is only another instance of the futility of
genius unassisted by substantial means.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century there
appears to have been something very like a craze for
the imitation of human speech by mechanical methods.
In 1779 an inventor named Kratzenstein produced a
machine by which the vowel sounds were automatically
pronounced. This was accomplished by forcing air
through a reed into different hollows or cavities of
varying size. It does not seem, however, to have been
a great success.
A more ingenious affair was that of Kempelin, which
attracted the attention of Sir David Brewster, who, by
the way, was the first man to prophesy that, eventually,
a medium for the artificial production of speech would
be discovered. Kempelin 's invention was more
elaborate than that of Kratzenstein. Based very
much on the same principle, it was restricted to a
single cavity dexterously acted upon by the hand.
A HISTORICAL SURVEY 9
Subsequently it was improved until it could be
made to pronounce a whole sentence. The words
have not been vouchsafed to us, but we suspect they
were rather crude in tone and articulation.
The most perfect vocal automaton ever produced
was, undoubtedly, that of Faber, who completed it in
1860. This marvellous machine was constructed on
anatomical lines analogous to those governing the
production of the human voice. The lungs were
represented by a keyboard in the trunk, from which air
was forced through tubes in the throat to play upon
ivory reeds which took the place of the vocal chords.
In the larynx a small wheel was inserted to control the
roll of the R, and a rubber tongue, with lips of the
same material, enunciated the consonants. It was a
triumph of mechanical skill, but from what we have
read regarding it, the sounds it gave forth were utterly
unlike those of anything human.
From all that we can gather this was the last attempt
made to imitate the speech of mankind by an artificial
device. For several centuries persons had been striving
to produce vocal sounds to mimic the voice of nature in
man or the lower animals. The idea of reproduction
of sound had never occurred to a single soul, though it
was strange that the echo, which had fastened upon
the minds of the old Greeks, had not taken a grip
of later thinkers. In the echo is the actual basis of the
talking machine, for it is the sound-wave impinging
upon a substance and being thrown back therefrom,
while, by the recording process, the wave is seized upon
and held for future reproduction.
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE
WHAT is sound ? Asked suddenly in a company of
ordinary middle-class people we doubt if the question
would be immediately answered. The same result
would most likely ensue were a similar query propounded
in regard to sight, taste or smell, but as sound is the
subject on which we are at present engaged we will
pursue that alone. The correct answer to the inquiry
would be that sound is a sensation produced by the
vibratory impact of the air upon the external tympanum,
or drum, of the ear, whence it is conveyed by an internal
process to the brain. By no possibility could the sound
be heard without the air or some less important body
acting as a medium. As far back as 1705, Hawksbee
made experiments which proved this. In a vacuum the
sound of a bell could not be heard. Water is a much
better conductor than air, but the atmosphere by which
we are constantly surrounded, being the body most
easily and most conveniently set in motion, is the unfail-
ing means of exciting that sensation which we call sound.
We now perceive that there can be no sound without
motion. Take an ordinary glass and strike it with
some hard substance so that it gives forth an audible
note, then, very gently bring your finger into contact
with the rim and you will feel a tremor as long as the
sound lasts. If, however, you press your finger upon the
edge, so as to stop the vibration, the sound ceases. It
is a very simple illustration, but it conveys almost all
that need be said on this branch of the subject.
Air is entirely composed of myriads upon myriads
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 11
of particles, and when these atoms are agitated they
jostle each other and, in a greater or less degree, form
themselves into wavelets. It is not necessary to
bring forward the oft-quoted simile of the stone thrown
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
SOUND WAVES MAGNIFIED
into the pond causing ripples to illustrate this simple
fact. Chladni, whose Treatise on Acoustics was pub-
lished in Paris in 1809, demonstrated the unerring
formation of sound waves by scattering sand on metal
i *" t ~- ^
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
SOUND WAVES MAGNIFIED
plates and subjecting it to the vibrations caused by
harmonious notes struck on musical instruments.
Tyndall in his Lectures on Sound informs us that a
somewhat similar experiment was performed by
Lichtenberg before Chladni 's time. An electrified
powder and resin cakes were used, and the disposition
12 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
of the powder showed the effect of the electricity upon
the surface of the cakes.
About the same date as Chladni, Duhamel was
engaged upon experiments which made the nearest
approach to the phonograph that had then been dis-
covered. This earnest worker found it practicable to
record the sonorous signs by means of a revolving
cylinder and papers smeared with lamp-black. A little
later the Due de Leon, in his letters, supported the claim
of a German artisan to have successfully reproduced
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
SOUND WAVES MAGNIFIED
By adding together the violin and clarinet waves we get the
resultant wave which the ear receives and analyses
the human voice by mechanical means. That is all we
know about it, however, no further reference to the
machine having been found. Another step towards
reproduction of sound was made by Eisenmanger, of
Paris, who, in 1836, secured an English patent for
registering pianoforte music by the use of carbonized
paper and a depressed stylus.
Inventors were now getting warm, as the children
say in their game. The hidden secret of reproduction
was being tracked down, but it was still elusive.
Twenty years after Eisenmanger's invention, M. Leon
Scott de Martinville came very close to it with his
device, " The Phonautograph." Scott was a descendant
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 13
of one of those intense Jacobites who had followed the
unhappy fortunes of King James II, when he fled to
France and cast himself on the bounty of the French
monarch. Few some say only one of those mis-
guided Scotsmen ever returned, and it is certain that
Scott's ancestor never did, for the family for generations
had been recognized as purely French. Following up
Duhamel's discovery of half a century before, this
Frenchman with the Caledonian name evolved his
" Phonautograph," but being pressed for money, as so
many inventors are, he formed a partnership with one
Kcenig, who provided the sinews of war.
For a description of Scott's machine we will quote
from our friend Mr. Henry Seymour's valuable work
entitled The Reproduction of Sound
" The method employed by Scott was to support a
roller, having an extended spindle through its centre
and forming its axis, upon two standards or supports,
one extension of the spindle being furnished with a
thread to engage with a corresponding female thread in
one of the standards. A small handle attached to one
end of the spindle enabled the drum to be revolved at
any desired speed, the traverse movement to provide
clearance being, of course, provided by the threaded
spindle. The drum was covered with a sheet of paper,
the surface of which was prepared with lamp-black ;
and at the perimeter of the same was placed a diaphragm
of parchment held by a short piece of brass tube, upon
one end of which it was stretched in the fashion of a
drum-head, the other end of the tube being connected
to a focusing chamber or barrel, made from plaster of
Paris. Upon the centre of the flexible diaphragm was
fixed with sealing wax a stubby hog's bristle ; when the
drum was revolved the bristle was in intimate contact
with its carbonized surface, and removed the particles
14 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
of lamp-black with which it came in contact, leaving a
distinct marking. It was found when no sound was
directed into the barrel or focusing chamber, and the
drum was revolved at any speed, only a straight line
was marked upon the paper ; but when the drum was
revolved at a given speed and sounds of various charac-
ters were concentrated in the direction of the flexible
diaphragm, the marking or line would assume a wave-
like form, and that these peculiar sinuosities varied in
size and frequency as the sounds of speech differed in
character. In fine, the waves varied with the pitch and
intensity of the sound, but were invariably constant for
the same sound."
Here, then, was a complete machine for the recording
of the human voice, but it lacked the means of repro-
duction. The voice was there on the paper, but it
could not be sent back through the plaster of Paris
chamber. You could see the voice but you could not
hear it. The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the
screw for the traverse movement was the invention of
Kcenig, but as Scott and he were jointly engaged upon the
work, and Scott had constructed the machine before
Kcenig had anything to do with it, we may take it that
the credit for the whole should belong to the original
At a meeting of the British Association in 1859, the
Phonautograph was exhibited and attracted a good
deal of attention. The Prince Consort was then President
of the Association and took a great interest in the
machine, demonstrating it to Queen Victoria, who was
Although nothing actually useful came from the
invention of Scott at the time, it turned the minds of
scientists in a new direction, and the vibratory
diaphragm was taken up and experimented upon by
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 15
those with some knowledge of acoustics. Among
others was Philip Reiss, of Friedrichsdorf, who proved
that the voice could be transmitted frpm one diaphragm
to another by means of an electrified wire conveying
a current. This was the first crude telephone. A
Scotsman, Alexander Graham Bell, working on the same
lines as Reiss, made several wonderful advances, while
Gray and others effected some important improvements,
until the telephone as we see it to-day came into being.
One development followed another, and there can be
no question that from the telephone sprang the
In regard to the coining of the word " phonograph,"
we believe the credit is due to a Mr. Fenby, who, in
1863, took out a patent for the electrical recording and
reproducing of sound, and registered his instrument
by that name. What became of this invention we cannot
tell, but most probably it went into that limbo which is
specially reserved for the countless products of clever
men's brains. Mr. Seymour tells us that it was
altogether different in conception and function from
the Edison machine.
And now the mention of that magic name leads us
on to the great discovery of the secret after which men
had been hankering for so many years. There has been
considerable dispute in respect to Edison's claim as
inventor of the talking machine. Certain it is that,
in April, 1877, M. Charles Cros, of Paris, deposited with
the French Academy of Sciences the description of a
machine almost identical with that in the specification
of the patent which was not applied for by Edison till
the following year. The question then arises: Was it
possible for Edison to have known of the Cros descrip-
tion ? We think not, though many have maintained a
contrary opinion. It is a moot point which has never
16 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
been satisfactorily decided, but we are inclined to
believe that the balance of the evidence rests in Edison's
favour. Was not the appearance of the star Neptune
predicted by two astronomers, French and English, for
the same hour, and the prediction made simultaneously ?
Were not Darwin and Wallace working on the same lines
in biology for years and drawing the same conclusions
without either of them knowing it ? When such
coincidences have been recorded and confirmed, is it
incapable of belief that Cros and Edison could have
made a simultaneous discovery ?
There are different stories of how the secret of sound
reproduction was revealed, but all of them point to an
accident. The most popular tale is that supposed to
have been told by Mr. Edison himself. " I was singing
to the mouthpiece of a telephone," it runs, " when the
vibration of the voice sent the fine steel point into my
finger. This set me thinking. If I could record the
actions of the point over the same surface afterwards
I saw no reason why the thing would not talk. I tried
the experiment first on a slip of telegraph paper and
found that the point made an alphabet. I shouted
the words : ' Halloo ! Halloo ! ' into the mouthpiece,
ran the paper back over the steel point, and heard a
faint ' Halloo ! Halloo ! ' in return. I there and then
determined to make a machine which would work
accurately. That's the whole story, and this happened
Mr. Seymour, in his book already referred to, gives
a much more scientific version of the discovery, but it
is not necessary to trouble the reader with it here,
since it is our endeavour to render our little work as
free from abstruse technicalities as possible.
Having arrived at the conclusion that the construc-
tion of a talking machine came within the bounds of
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 17
probability, Edison lost no time in setting to work upon
it. There can be no doubt he knew all about Leon
Scott's invention, for he began where Scott left off. The
roller or drum principle for making the record was
freely adapted from the phonautograph, and the feed
device, said to have been invented by Kcenig on Scott's
machine, was also used. There, however, to a great
extent, the similarity ended. The means employed to
obtain the record were different. Edison's roller was
spirally grooved, and instead of the paper and lamp-
black previously used, tinfoil was substituted as a
covering for the drum. The hog's bristle on the dia-
phragm gave place to a steel point which made indenta-
tions on the tinfoil when the drum was revolved and
the diaphragm was caused to vibrate by sound. These
indentations were, of course, very minute and followed
the grooves on the roller in irregular fashion, some
deeper than others, with varying distances between,
corresponding with the strength and frequency of the
sounds uttered into the focusing-chamber. When the
needle was again made to traverse the indented path,
reconveying the vibrations to the diaphragm, the
original sounds were reproduced. The great secret was
a secret no longer. The reproduction of the human
voice had been achieved.
At first the sounds were faint and unnatural, but the
enlargement of the focusing-chamber into an amplifying
horn bore its fruit in increased distinctness, nevertheless
the whole comtraption was exceedingly crude. A
detailed description, giving dimensions, runs as follows :
The machine consisted of a brass drum, 4 ins. in length
and 3-4 ins. in diameter, carried on a screw shaft which
advanced -1 for each revolution. The surface of the
drum was traversed by a narrow groove of -1 in., and was
covered with tinfoil. At right angles to the axis was
18 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
fixed a tube closed at the end nearest the drum by a
thin ferrotype plate, which had at its centre a projecting
stylus. The vibrations of the plate caused the stylus
to indent the unsupported tinfoil as the cylinder
revolved. On the opposite side of the drum was another
tube, closed at its outer end by a paper diaphragm from
the centre of which a light rod passed to a rounded
pin, which a spring carried close to the tinfoil surface.
On the drum being rotated and the pin brought into
contact with the indented foil, the sounds which
had caused the vibration of the ferrotype plate were
Very soon it was found that the hand-crank gave
an irregular motion to the mandril, and Edison cast
about for some mechanism which would overcome
this. Water and electricity were both tried, the latter
being definitely adopted and holding the sway until
1894, when Mr. T. H. Macdonald, the factory manager
of the American Graphophone Company, succeeded in
producing a clock-work motor. This met with general
approval, but was surpassed by a motor previously
made in England by the late Mr. Fitch, of Goswell
Road, London, a most ingenious invention, with a
delicate governing apparatus. It is the model which
forms the basis for all the more modern motors used as
the driving force for every kind of cylinder machine.
As a man of action Edison hastened to apply for a
patent. His claims for the potentialities of his inven-
tion are worthy of note : (1) Letter writing and all
kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer ;
(2) Phonographic books, which will speak to blind
people without effort on their part ; (3) The teaching
of Elocution ; (4) Reproduction of Music ; (5) The
" Family Record " a registry of sayings, reminiscences,
etc., by members of a family in their own voices, and of
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 19
the last words of dying persons ; (6) Music boxes and
toys ; (7) Clocks that should announce in articulate
speech the time for going home, going to meals, etc. ;
(8) The preservation of languages by the exact repro-
duction of the manner of pronouncing ; (9) Educational
purposes, such as preserving the explanation made by
a teacher, so that the pupil can refer to them at any
moment, and spelling and other lessons placed upon
the machine for convenience in committing to
memory ; and (10) Connection with the telephone so
as to make the .invention an auxiliary in the transmission
of permanent and invaluable records, instead of being
the recipient of momentary and fleeting communications.
It is a great list, but application No. 4 seems to be
the only one that so far has been completely carried out.
A curious fact, too, is that he should claim for the teach-
ing of elocution and not for the teaching of music,
whereas to-day there is scarcely a school in America in
which the talking machine is not used for the latter
purpose. In this connection also 'there is a noteworthy
instance of the value of the machine as a teacher.
Madame Galli-Curci, the famous operatic prima donna
was refused an engagement by every impresario of
distinction in the States. Her voice was not considered
good enough. Nothing daunted, she went away and
secluded herself with a gramophone and a big parcel
of records made from the voices of the leading soprani
of the day. In the peace and quietness of her home
she practised assiduously, testing her voice against
those on the records. Gradually her vocal organ
improved. It had been there all along, but her training
had been insufficient. At last, when she imagined
she was qualified, she presented herself to a manager
asking for an audition. He remembered her and
declined to listen. It was the same with others. They
20 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
had heard her once and refused to give her another
chance. Almost despairing, she made her way to
Chicago, where, by good fortune, she found a gentleman
who acceded to her request. He listened and was
By the courtesy of thi Gramophone Co., Ltd.
amazed. She got her engagement at once, and now she
is the idol of America. A talking machine had wrought
a seeming miracle.
In claim No. 8 Edison speaks of the " preservation "
of languages He may have been thinking of the dying
tongues of the fast disappearing Red Race of his native
country Certainly the instrument would be of use in
preserving for the knowledge* of the curious some
specimens of the speech of those Indians, but we cannot
conceive what benefit that would be to humanity.
THE SOUND WAVE AND ITS CAPTURE 21
America has done her best to destroy the Red Man,
why should she wish to preserve his language ? How-
ever, in teaching living languages the talking machine
has been making great progress of late, and there is a
tremendous future before it in this direction. There
are other branches of education, too, in which it will
presently be found extremely useful, not forgetting our
friend the dancing-master, who is installing machines
all over the country to provide the necessary music.
The first machine constructed by Edison, a model of
which, presented by himself, may be seen in South
Kensington Museum (there is a photograph of it hanging
before our eyes at the present moment), was a very
clumsy affair with a handle for rotating the cylinder and
the results were far from satisfactory. Nevertheless,
they were a reproduction and gave a basis lor further
experiment. The tinfoil was not well suited to receive
the extremely delicate indentations of the recording
needle. It offered too great a resistance, and the con-
sequence was that the sounds were feeble and indistinct
even after the enlargement of the focusing-chamber,
so rubber tubes had to be used to convey the sounds
from the diaphragm to the ear. The public, after the
first burst of wonderment at the novelty, did not regard
it with much favour. In the eyes of the average man it
was nothing more than a scientific toy.
HOW THE TALKING MACHINE WAS BROUGHT
IT had taken just upon seventy years, from the time of
Duhamel's Vibrograph to the imperfect phonograph of
Edison, for the reproduction of sound to be achieved.
In the meantime both the telegraph and the telephone
had been launched upon the world, but these were
of an electric nature, whereas the talking machine
had nothing whatsoever to do with electricity. It
was an exceedingly simple contrivance based upon
the storage and release of sound by means of
vibrations, and its utility in the beginning was
In the same year that Edison filed his application in
the United States, 1878, he took out an English patent,
No. 1644. By this it may be seen to the present day
that he did not pin his faith solely to tinfoil as a record-
ing medium. He mentions also waxes, gums or lacs,
but at that time he undoubtedly believed in what is
commonly known as " silver paper."
Whether Edison was disheartened by the comparative
failure of his invention or was too busily engaged with
other novelties which promised to be more remunerative
we have no knowledge, but it is an undisputed fact that
for about ten years he allowed his work upon the instru-
ment to fall into abeyance. There were others, however,
almost as keen-witted as himself, who were striving
eagerly to produce a device which would not infringe
the Edison American patent. These men were that
indefatigable Scotsman, Alexander Graham Bell, whose
TALKING MACHINE BROUGHT TO ENGLAND 23
name has already been mentioned in connection with the
telephone, his brother, Chichester Bell, and a clever
American scientist, Charles Sumner Tainter. While
Edison was dreaming or toiling in other directions,
these three were ferreting out fresh secrets in regard to
the phonograph. Unaware of the original inventor's
English patent, which mentioned wax as a recording
medium, they discovered that by the employment of a
composition which had wax as its principal , ingredient
they had a workable substance. They discarded the
steel point used by Edison and substituted a sapphire
stylus shaped like a gouge. This latter dug into the
wax " blank," as the mandril coating was called (a term
now used for all kinds of surfaces upon which sounds are
recorded in the first instance), instead of merely indenting
as the needle had done upon the tinfoil. To the instru-
ment constructed by the trio they gave the name of
" Graph ophone," a name still used by the highly successful
Columbia Company for their machines. The results
obtained by the Bell and Tainter method of recording
were greatly in advance of those secured by the Edison,
and an interest in the talking machine was at once
re-awakened. In one respect the new invention remained
the same as the original. The track made by the stylus
on the wax, like that made by the pin-head on the
tinfoil, was of the " hill-and-dale " or undulating
variety. The sinuous or zigzag track was still in the
air, so to speak.
The success of the Graphophone in the reproduction of
sound led capitalists to look upon it in the light of a
commercial proposition. Companies were formed to
manufacture machines and records, and to exploit
them to the world. In fact, there arose a boom in the
invention which that of Edison had never known, and
records of the voices of popular American vocalists
24 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
sold throughout the States as rapidly as they could be
In the beginning every one of these records was a
" master," that is to say, it was the original as it was
slipped off the cylinder, but soon a duplicating machine
was manufactured by which copies could be taken
without injury to the master. This machine has now
almost fallen into desuetude, and the cylinder record
is fast following it into the region of forgotten things.
At that time, however, it was in full swing, and the
copies made by it had the inevitable effect of cheapening
The vogue of the Graphophone aroused Edison and
caused him once more to turn his mind to the talking
machine. Immediately the fat was in the fire. As
Tainter and Bell had adopted Edison's mandril and
cylinder without saying by your leave, so Edison fastened
upon their cutting apparatus. Both parties appealed
to the law and fought their hardest. Edison main-
tained that indenting was equivalent to cutting, Tainter
and Bell asserted that it was a different process altogether.
The suit dragged on interminably, and the costs mounted
higher and higher, and all the time it was giving the
talking machine bold advertisement. The law's delay
is quite as notorious in America as it is here, if not
more so, and people began to whisper that the continued
prolongation of the actions was caused by the desire of
the litigants to deter other inventors from entering
into a field fraught with so many terrors. The end of it
all was a dollar ! Each paid the other this magnificent
sum for infringement of patent and peace was pro-
claimed. What the costs amounted to nobody but those
concerned in the case ever knew.
The immediate effect of the drawn battle was the
formation of a company called the Edison United,
TALKING MACHINE BROUGHT TO ENGLAND 25
which bought the patents that had been the casus
belli, and fondly imagined they had got hold of every-
thing and there would be no more litigation. However,
no sooner had this new concern found its feet and was
doing great business than the former foes came together
and promoted the Edison-Bell Company, a name still
perpetuated by J. E. Hough, Ltd., of Glengall Road,
Peckham, London. How this firm became entitled to
the use of the famous name is too long a story to be
related here, but it was acquired by perfectly legitimate
means. As it was, after a time Edison became dis-
satisfied with the way the company was carrying on
business, though his name still appeared in conjunction
with that of Bell in the title of the company, as it does
to this day.
Before the first talking machine war had ignomin-
iously fizzled out, however, a new method of obtaining
records from the " master " had been discovered which
revolutionized the whole business. The old duplicating
process was superseded by electrotyping. By this
means the master was covered with a coating of copper
and any number of moulded copies could be taken from
it without difficulty. Though Edison was not the
inventor of this system he vastly improved upon it, and
the records, by reason of the use of harder wax, and
consequently the more exact reproduction of the voice,
became much more marketable. Later on other metals
than copper were employed, and under the vacuum
deposit process, which reduces metals to a vapour by
high tension electric currents, gold moulded cylinder
records made their appearance. The enormous quantities
which were produced again brought down the price
and the public demand increased.
Hitherto, it will be observed, that we have spoken
solely and entirely of America from the time that
26 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Edison took out his first patent. The reason for this
is not difficult to trace. There were no talking machines
anywhere else. The patent holders had a monopoly of
them, they were not permitted to be exported except
under licence, and this licence was granted to nobody
unless contracts were signed of the most one-sided
character. The story of how the first phonograph
was smuggled across the Atlantic to Ireland is most
interesting and amusing, and we give it straight from the
mouth of the gentleman who perpetrated the deed.
He is alive and flourishing to-day, and is still connected
with the talking machine trade. His name is Mr.
Percy Willis, and he is sales manager to the firm of
J. E. Hough, Ltd., already mentioned, whose Winner
records are known all over the world.
" Well, I won't say that ours was absolutely the first
machine on this side," said Mr. Willis when we saw him
at the Edison Bell Works in Peckham, " but 111 swear
it was the first to be smuggled, and they were smuggled
in their thousands afterwards. We had been doing
rotten business in Canada, my partner and I, and cash
was running short. When one feels the lining of his
wallet wearing thin it sharpens his wits and brightens
up his intellect. Anyhow, I've always found it so,
and I've had a pretty wide experience. We were in
Montreal, and one evening as we passed down the street
we came upon a sort of booth or curtained store where
a great crowd of people were hovering around. Outside
there was a big bill posted up announcing that a phono-
graph might be heard within at so many cents a head.
' Gee/ ! I exclaimed. ' If we could only get one of
these machines and a few dozen records across to England
our fortunes would be made.' I may tell you, at that
time the Edison United was controlling the earth in the
talking machine line. They had little or no opposition,
TALKING MACHINE BROUGHT TO ENGLAND 27
for Berliner had not then taken out his patents, and this
company was running the Edison and the Tainter and
Bell inventions combined in one. They were the lords
of creation in the new business, and they carried things
with a mighty high hand. My partner agreed with me
that there was money in the notion, and we made up
our minds to go ahead without delay.
" Next day we took train for Boston, and there
we bought the machine and three dozen cylinder
records. For these we had to put our names to
several portentous looking documents, binding us
down to all kinds of restrictions, the most important
of which, to us, was that neither the machine nor the
records were to be taken out of the United States
under a penalty of something approaching to electro-
cution. But what did we care ? We had determined
upon the adventure and we would take all risks. By the
time we had paid for our passages from Boston to
Queenstown we were just about the end of our tether so
far as cash went, but we were buoyed up with plenty of
hope for the future. We were precious careful of our
baggage, I can assure you, for on that depended the
whole of our expectations. However, we got through
to Queenstown all right and then 111 never forget it !
We were going ashore when the strap supporting the
parcel of records broke and there was a crash. My
heart was in my mouth, but when we came to examine
we found that only twelve of them had gone, we had
still a couple of dozen to carry on with.
" Of course, it was necessary for us to see about
business at once. We could not afford to rest on our
oars for a single moment, so we made our start there and
then in Queenstown, and a splendid start it was. The
people came rolling in by dozens and scores. In those
days, you know, to hear the record you had to listen
28 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
with tubes in your ears, and there was no spring motor
to drive the machine. The mandril was rotated by
electricity which necessitated lugging a battery about
with you. These were drawbacks which have all been
overcome long since, but the thing was then in its
swaddling clothes and hadn't even begun to crawl.
The worst of it was that only one person could listen
at a time and, especially with children, there was a good
deal of difficulty in subduing the impatience of the
" From the very first day of our opening I saw that
most of our anticipations were to be fulfilled. Everybody
was full of the wonderful talking machine and our fame
preceded us to Cork which was our next town. There
they nocked to us in shoals, and I recollect one old woman
standing with a market basket on her arm while I
expatiated on the wonders of the invention. She
regarded me with a wistful eye for a long time, and then
in an audible whisper she asked a neighbour, ' What's
ailin' him ? '
" Waterford and Limerick were little gold mines to
us, and then we opened at the Central Hall in Dublin.
In the first five days we took 200. Our dreams were
being realized, and there were not two happier fellows
in the whole of Ireland.
" While in Dublin we had a private visit from the
Lord Mayor of the city, who brought three members
of Parliament with him. They had come especially
to hear the voice of Gladstone, who was then in extra-
ordinary favour with the Irish because of his Home Rule
Bill. Now, I was just a little perturbed about this.
We had a record of the words of Gladstone giving his
famous message to Edison on the marvel of the talking
machine, but the voice well, it was not the actual
voice of the great statesman, it was that of somebody
TALKING MACHINE BROUGHT TO ENGLAND 29
else. In fear and trembling I put it on. Each of the
visitors heard it in turn wich reverential awe. Then,
judge of my surprise when one of them grasped me by
the hand. ' Thank you, sir,' he remarked, ' I have sat
behind the old man for nearly fifty years and recognize
every tone of the voice.' I guess the man who made that
record must have been a great mimic.
" We did so well in Dublin that I thought I would
chance another smuggling expedition to the States for
more records and a few machines, for we had had many
inquiries concerning the price of them and how they
could be obtained. I went and was entirely successful,
bringing the goods over in apple barrels packed as fruit.
We were now in full swing. The machines sold for
high prices to persons who wished to enter into the same
line as ourselves and the entertainment business flourished
exceedingly. I remember a very amusing incident,
though it was rather serious at the moment. We were
going from Ireland to the Isle of Man, for the season in
Douglas. As I have already told you, we had to carry
an electric battery with us for the motor power to turn
the cylinder. While waiting for the boat in Liverpool
I had the battery fully charged ready to start as soon as
we reached the island. The terminals were on top.
and I set the thing down and walked away for a minute
or two. In my absence a woman came along with a
tin box and flopped it atop of my apparatus. The box
being of metal completed the circuit, and by the time I
returned the bottom of that box had gone and the lady
thought she had struck an infernal machine. I had to
recompense her, of course, which, I suppose, served me
right for my carelessness.
"At that time Charles Coborn was at his zenith with
' The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.' We
contrived to get a record of the song, and it was one
30 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
of the greatest hits we ever made. People used to come
again and again to listen to it , and then they would bring
their friends. Everybody wanted to hear that song,
till at last the cylinder got clean worn out, for in those
days the wax that they were made of was rather soft
stuff and wouldn't last as the later cylinders did.
" It was a glorious life and I enjoyed myself amazingly.
There were other trips to America, each one more profit-
able than the last, and I was never caught > though once
one of the Edison United men came after me on this side
and wanted to know the names of the parties who had
machines from me. I refused to give him any informa-
tion and defied him. He had no proofs against me, in
spite of the fact being known that I was engaged in that
sort of contraband ; but there were certain prosecutions
of other persons, and one of the best known men in the
trade since then was obliged to take refuge in Holland
for a time.
" Those days are long past now. The high-handed
methods of the Edison United have departed from these
shores, and the gramophone has almost entirely taken
the place of the phonograph. When my partner
alas ! he is dead now, poor fellow and I severed our
connection he got the highest price ever paid for a
talking machine up till that time. It was the good old
instrument that had lasted us all through, and he sold
it for 200 ! Our records, too, fetched a pound a piece."
THE DISC MACHINE
IT has been previously stated that the gramophone, or
disc machine, has, in this country at least, practically
ousted the older invention from the English market.
Up to the outbreak of the war with Germany, Edison had
a big factory at Willesden, on the northern outskirts of
London, and did a fairly good, though declining, trade.
At one time, of course, he had had almost a monopoly of
the industry in England, and the Edison machine was the
popular instrument. There are still a certain number of
enthusiasts clinging to it scattered throughout the
country, who have formed societies of their own and
endeavour to revive the dying cult, but we fear that
their success is limited. Some of the trade factors,
that is to say, the wholesalers, have accused the Edison
Company in Britain of sharp practice. The American
methods of business did not suit the slower-moving
traders of this country and there were latterly some
actions at law. The Edison factory closed down and
there were no more cylinders or machines on sale from
that quarter. It is not improbable that the managers
of the British branch of the business formed a wrong
estimate of the effect the war would have upon the trade
and scuttled off to avoid a slump. If that should have
been the case, they made the biggest mistake of their
lives, for the war proved to be of the greatest benefit
to the trade generally, from the manufacturer down to
the humblest dealer, although it was almost entirely
in favour of the disc machine. Nevertheless, had the
32 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Edison people stuck to their guns they would, in all
likelihood, have had a share in the prosperity. In the
whole of the three kingdoms there is now but one small
factory turning out cylinders, that of the Clarion
Company, at Wandsworth.
The inventor of the disc system was Emil Berliner.
It will be remembered that both the Edison and the
Tainter-Bell processes were those of the hill and dale
track, Berliner reverted to the old method of Leon
Scott with his phon autograph, and produced a sinuous
or zigzag pathway. This is known to experts as the
needle-cut record, while the original is the phono-cut.
Berliner's first essay in disc reproduction was to coat a
flat zinc plate with a viscous film, as is done in zinco-
graphy, and then to engrave thereon by means of a
needle attached to a diaphragm the sinuosities resulting
from the sound-imparted vibrations of the diaphragm.
These appeared as tiny microscopical wriggles running in
a spiral track on the face of the prepared disc, which
were afterwards bitten into the zinc by acid. To obtain
a reproduction a vertical diaphragm was used which
had a stylus supported by a lever and acted upon by a
point which ran in the concentric grooves. After
being engraved the zinc disc was employed for the
purpose of procuring a metallic negative from which
countless records could be pressed in a composition
consisting mainly of shellac, which hardens when cold.
The reproductions thus obtained were, however, rough
and crude, and recourse was afterwards had to the
wax blank and the sapphire stylus. For the record
made in this latter way a treatment of very fine graphite
was applied which metallized it, and the electrotyping
went on in the ordinary manner, with a solution of
sulphate of copper bath, and the application of a high
tension current. Great care had to be exercised in this
By the courtesy of Messrs. Alfred Graham & Co.,
St. Andrew's Works, Crofton Park, London, S.E.
The most elaborately ornate gramophone exhibited at the
British Trade Industries' Fair, 1922
34 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
process, and special appliances had to be introduced
for the purpose of procuring a good and service-
able master from which the working matrices were
There can be no doubt that the Berliner disc is the
favourite upon the market, but there are phono-cut
discs as well, which have a considerable following
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
HIS MASTER'S VOICE PORTABLE GRAMOPHONE
among gramophone users. Our friend, Mr. Seymour,
filed two specifications in reference to the recording and
reproduction of this type of disc as far back as 1903, and
one Dr. Michaelis, a German, took out a patent in this
country a few months later for a somewhat similar
invention. The doctor's was a rather curious production
in stout strawboard coated with enamel, and faced
with celluloid on which the record had been impressed.
THE DISC MACHINE 35
He called it the " Neophone," and we saw one of them
not long since in the possession of a collector, who
preserved it as a curio. Some of these discs were huge
affairs, 20 ins. across. As a matter of fact, they were
ultimately a failure. The strawboard warped and the
records became useless.
Undoubtedly the most successful firm in the exploita-
tion of this system are Messrs. Pathe Freres, of Paris,
London and New York, who years ago adopted the
undulating method as applied to discs. Their records
are pressed in the shellac composition like all others of
this form, but have greater durability in consequence
of being played with a ball pointed sapphire which does
not give so much wear and tear as the sharp steel needle.
For the same reason there is not quite so much surface
Edison himself has now brought out a disc of this
design, but it has not reached England yet. It may,
nevertheless, be expected at any moment, and will
probably be on sale before our little work is in print.
It is played, we are told, by a diamond, but this is
nothing new, Pathe Freres had a diamond reproducer
at the same time as their sapphire, but have now aban-
doned it in favour of the latter. High encomiums have
been passed on the Edison disc by the inventor's own
countrymen, who praise it for its lack of that besetting
sin of the gramophone, the surface scratch. By the way,
the term " gramophone " was given by Berliner to his
instrument in the same fashion as Edison called his
machine a phonograph and Tainter and Bell named
theirs a graphophone. But more of this hereafter. If
the Edison disc should fulfil all the claims that are made
for it the friends of the talking mahcine will welcome
it with open arms, for even the most ardent admirers
of the instrument cannot disguise from themselves
36 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
the fact that in several respects there is room for
It will no doubt be news to certain of our readers that
sound has been photographed, yet a patent for sound
photography was granted to Morgan-Brown so far back
as 1880. Since then at least half a dozen have followed,
including one to the irrepressible Graham Bell, in 1886.
" The principle involved in most of these methods,"
says Seymour, " is to vary an otherwise constant
beam of light passed through a condenser and reflecting
upon a small mirror attached to a vibrating diaphragm,
the reflected beam or ' light pencil ' being directed to
impinge upon a blank with a sensitized surface. The
recording machine is constructed much upon the same
lines as those of the ordinary disc recording machine, with
the addition, of course, that it is also a modified camera."
Another plan for obtaining a record is by a somewhat
intricate process of passing the record between a con-
centrated beam of light falling on a selenium cell in
circuit with a microphone by which the light waves are
converted into sound waves. The system, however,
has not yet been perfected. Theoretically the photo-
phone may be all right, but we have not had the pleasure
of listening to any of the records so reproduced, and
until we do, we are rather inclined to be a little
sceptical. That sound has been photographed we
1 Since writing the above we have had an opportunity of
listening to the much-vaunted Edison records on an Edison
specially constructed machine, and have been most grievously
disappointed. They are formidable looking discs of about a
quarter of an inch in thickness, though very light considering,
but, instead of diminishing the surface sound, the disagreeable
scratch is much more manifest than ever, and in other respects
the records show no advantage whatsoever over those at
present issued by the best manufacturers. The artists,
too, both vocal and instrumental, are a poor lot compared
with those who are exclusively engaged by some of the other
THE DISC MACHINE 37
readily admit, it is the reproduction that we are doubtful
about. Were the conjunction of light and sound
brought into complete harmony the synchronization of
the kinematograph with the gramophone would not be
far distant. And that opens up an entirely new vista
which we must not yet dwell upon because we are
not gifted with the power of prophecy ; nevertheless,
it is our opinion that before long the camera and the
talking machine will come into consonance, so that we
shall hear the voices of the players on the screen as well
as witness their actions.
We remember an attempt was made by Edison some
years ago to synchronize the bioscope with the phono-
graph, and a private show was given at the Company's
premises in Clerkenwell Road, London. It was a
ghastly failure. The mouths of the characters opened,
but no words came, and, vice versa, when the lips were
closed the machine persisted in talking. It was simply
ludicrous. Since then, we understand, Edison has still
been working on the idea but has not arrived at a
satisfactory result. However, other inventors are
pegging away at it, and quite recently we heard that
Sir Harry Lauder has secured something wonderful in
this line which he is keeping up his sleeve. 1
1 The latest news from America assures us that the synchro-
nization of the talking machine and the film has been achieved
by means of the endless band. The method of producing a
record upon a celluloid tape is not new. It was suggested several
years ago though never actually carried out. Celluloid as a record
substance goes back for a long time. As we have already noted
Dr. Michaelis used it for his Neophone, and Edison's " Blue
Amberols," the best cylinder records ever manufactured, were of
this material. Celluloid or cellulose may be fashioned in flexible
form and the record impressed upon it. A long ribbon of this
could easily embody a whole opera, the reproduction being effected
by passing the band over a couple of mandrils. In the timing
of it with the film the record and the picture are reeled off together,
so that the action and the voice correspond exactly. It is an
ingenious notion, and we trust it may fructify.
38 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
To revert to the Berliner disc machine or gramophone.
It was patented in the year 1887, but not for another
decade was it freely sold in Great Britain, though a
few had made their appearance from America. Up
till then the only machine known in this country
was the cylinder. About 1897, Berliner sold his
English patent rights to a private concern which called
itself after the name of the instrument, The Gramophone
Company. This firm dealt in talking machines made
under the patent which they had purchased from the
inventor ; but in 1899 it transferred the business to a
company incorporated under the style of The Gramo-
phone Company, Limited. A year later this company,
in its turn, transferred the concern to a company with
a much larger capital, which had at the same time
acquired a business in typewriters, and was known as
The Gramophone and Typewriter, Limited. Shortly
afterwards it dropped its typewriter interest and became
again The Gramophone Company, Limited, a title which
it still retains.
In 1900 the Tainter-Bell patent expired, and this
was followed some time later by the expiration of the
Berliner 1887 patent. In less than no time 'phones of
all kinds were being rushed upon the public. Many
of these were given fancy names, such as " Dulcephone,"
" Coronophone," and the like, but not one of them was
known as a " Gramophone." That name was believed
to be sacred to The Gramophone Company alone, and
the mushroom manufacturers many of them, in fact,
most of them, Germans had a wholesome dread of
treading upon the corns of a corporation which was
rapidly making its presence felt.
The first double-sided disc was introduced to this
country from Germany in 1904, and was a very good
record indeed, which cannot be said of all its congeners.
THE DISC MACHINE 39
It belonged to the firm of C. and J. Ullmann and was
named the Odeon Duplex. Odeon records were much
sought after, and even now, with all the outcry against
the admission of German goods, there are occasional
inquiries for them. They were in two sizes, 1\ ins.
and lOf ins. in diameter.
In the same year also appeared the National Phono-
graph Company, which was the Edison Company already
referred to, with its European headquarters in Holland.
The firm opened business in Gray's Inn Road and pros-
pered so well that in a few months it took additional
premises at 25 Clerkenwell Road. It then established a
big factory at Willesden, London, N.W., and for some
years did a flourishing trade. In the end, however,
as we have previously stated, it went down, like a good
many others, and England knew it no more. This
practically severed the last British link with Edison
and his phonograph.
It was a year of great events in the Talking Machine
Industry that 1904, for it likewise saw the arrival in
this country of one of the most successful disc ventures
that are known here at the present time. The British
Zonophone Company came to London, bringing with it,
as manager, a gentleman who is now deservedly regarded
as one of the leading lights of the trade. We refer to
Mr. Louis Sterling, who has been for several years the
Managing Director of the British house of the world
famous Columbia Graphophone Company. There is not
a scheme for the welfare of the industry and (he better-
ment of its prospects in which Mr. Sterling is not one
of the moving spirits, and withal he is so unassuming,
so genial, that he has endeared himself to everyone with
whom he comes in contact. Still, like most men who
have risen from small beginnings, and Mr. Sterling
would not be ashamed to tell you himself that his
40 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
beginnings were very small, he has had his struggles.
Resigning his position with the Zonophone Company
within a short period, he launched The Sterling Record
Company, with a play upon his own name, and was
shortly afterwards joined by Mr. Russell Hunting,
an adventurous spirit, well known in the gramophone
trade throughout the world. Hunting had previously
been with the Edison-Bell Consolidated Company, from
which he had seceded with a few others, and after joining
Mr. Sterling, the name of the latter's concern was
changed to the Russell Hunting Co. They occupied the
old Zonophone premises at 81 City Road, while the
Zono people moved to 23.
The increasing popularity of the disc record was
already beginning to affect the cylinder trade, and in
1905 war arose between the Edison-Bell Consolidated
Phonograph Company and the National Phonograph
Company. We are not quite clear on the merits of the
case, but, it seems that the National Company in a trade
circular laid claim to the name of Edison as their own
exclusive property. They doubtless had some grounds for
this as they were working Edison patents, but so were
their opponents at the same time. The Edison-Bell
at once countered with a heavy stroke. They announced
in the clearest terms that " all Edison patents, together
with others of importance within the United Kingdom,
relating to the modern Phonograph were purchased
by the Edison Corporation, Ltd., for the sum of 40,000,
and that in the purchase deeds of this transaction it
was agreed that the first word of its trading name
should be EDISON." The challenge having been thrown
down long litigation followed, which did not tend to
the enhancement of prosperity in the cylinder trade.
In the midst of the turmoil caused by the opposing
companies the disc people were strengthening their
THE DISC MACHINE 41
hands. Factors and dealers were looking this way and
that in a state of bewilderment, and presently conceived
that their surest hope of salvation lay in the support of
the non-combatant. So the disc scored while the
Kilkenny cats of the cylinder were tearing each other
It is interesting to observe that about this time there
were efforts made to establish a trade in the commercial
phonograph. The Edison-Bell Company had already
been endeavouring to force the market with their
Dictaphone. Then there was registered the Shorthand
Record Company, an enterprise which brought out a
series of records for dictation purposes in conjunction
with the teaching of stenography. The Linguaphone,
too, was an instrument designed for the teaching of
languages, but the public was not ready for it, and
neither of these projects had a very long life. Now-
adays, when the desire for the acquirement of foreign
tongues has been greatly stimulated by the war, there
are being issued quantities of educational discs, and the
matter is being taken up in earnest.
The Columbia Company was now forging ahead with
fine determination. They had achieved a record of the
voice of Pope Leo XIII which was in itself a master-
piece of enterprise, as it ensured the patronage and
favour of all good Catholics. That was followed by some
remarkable cylinders of the favourite operatic singers
of the day, Edouard de Reszke, Scott i, and Campanani,
with Mesdames Sembrich and Schumann- Heinck. Not
to be outdone, the Gramophone Company, by this
time an exceedingly prosperous concern, came out
with discs of Caruso, Plancon, Scotti, Madame Calve,
and many others.
During this period more German records were being
introduced to the English market in the form of the
42 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Beka, the Dacapo and the Favourite. The Fonotipia,
also came over from Italy, with Messrs C. and J. Ullmann,
of the Odeon, as agents. The records of these companies
were all discs and added heavily to the preponderance
of the balance in favour of that type. The records were
mostly made here, but the machines marketed by these
concerns were all Teutonic, stock, lock and barrel.
Indeed, up till that time there were few talking
machines of actual British build.
By far the best season that had then been known in
the trade since the instrument was brought across the
Atlantic was the winter of 1906-7. Machines and records
were plentiful and buyers were many ; but the following
two years showed a disastrous reverse. The reason
for this might be found in the unsettled nature of the
business owing to the competition between the cylinder
and the disc. The mind of the public was distracted
between the types and so they bought neither. In
the general slump the Russell Hunting Company, with
its cylinder record, was wound up. It was perhaps not
a bad thing for Mr. Sterling after all, for a little later he
introduced a disc record under the name Rena, which
was subsequently absorbed by the Columbia, and Louis
Sterling found himself at the head of affairs in the whole
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC.
FROM what has previously been said, it will be under-
stood that the talking machine, so far as it has yet been
evolved, requires various appliances and accessories to
act in conjunction with it before we can get a perfect
reproduction of the recorded sound. In disc machines
there must, first of all, be the motor to rotate the record,
then the turntable on which the record is placed, after
that the point to follow the grooves and transmit the
vibrations to the reproducer or sound box, which
receives the vibrations from the point and passes
them on, as re-embodied sound, to the amplifier to be
strengthened in volume and spread abroad. In connec-
tion with the horn there is also the tone arm which
carries the sound from the reproducer to the amplifying
horn, and is a comparatively recent introduction. If we
look closely into the trade-mark of the Gramophone
Company, the well-known " His Master's Voice "
picture, we will see that the sound box is attached to the
lower portion of the horn without the intervention of
any tubular apparatus. That was the Berliner system
when first brought out. There is also in certain gramo-
phones another attachment, known as the gooseneck,
which is interposed between the tone arm and the repro-
ducer, but it is of no value beyond that of convenience
in placing the needle in its holder and the proper
adjustment of the sound box.
Speaking of the motor, we have already stated that
the first phonographs were hand-driven, then came
electric power, and after that the smoothly running
clockwork contrivance. In both types of machine in
use at present the actuating power is the steel spring,
44 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
and the object to be attained is the noiseless and per-
fectly steady movement of the delicate machinery. To
enter into all the minutiae of the apparatus would
necessitate a long and technical dissertation upon the
mechanism which would assuredly prove tedious to the
majority of our readers. When a man buys a watch
he does not want to learn the whole process of its
manufacture. All that he wishes to know is whether
it will keep correct time, and so it is with the motor of
a talking machine. The purchaser only desires to be
assured that it will drive the turntable, or the mandril,
smoothly, steadily, and without noise. Now, here
comes an extraordinarily characteristic feature of our
English idiosyncrasies. Having developed the most
perfect device for the driving of the phonograph, in the
shape of the Greenhill motor made by Fitch, we straight-
way allowed it to slip through our fingers into the hands
of somebody else. It must be premised that the prin-
ciple of the motor for both the phonograph and the
gramophone is the same, the difference being merely a
matter of design. When the Tainter-Bell and Berliner
patents expired, and it was seen that the disc was to be
the machine of the future, the Germans set to work upon
it with the concentrated vigour which belongs to them.
It is one of the distinguishing presentments of the
Teutonic brain that it does not originate, but given the
groundwork upon which to labour it will forthwith
produce much fruit of a serviceable nature if not
of a high quality. The Germans speedily turned out
cheap motors by the thousand, but presently they were
beaten by the Swiss, who, after long generations of
experience in clock and watch making, found the gramo-
phone requirement a comparatively easy proposition.
While these foreigners were busy flooding the
British markets with these products of cheap labour
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 45
not a single motor was manufactured in England.
Every machine that was built in this country had a
foreign motor inside it. This went on until the war
put a stop to the influx of German goods and restrictions
were placed upon the importation of Swiss wares. It
was then that our own manufacturers began to take
thought. British handicraft had always been the best
in the world. Why had we permitted Germany and
By the courtesy of Messrs. J. E. Hough, Ltd
SINGLE SPRING MOTOR WITH TURNTABLE
Switzerland to supplant us in the matter of talking
machine motors ? At that time, however, firms that
would have started without delay were handicapped
for the lack of men. Engineers and artificers were
at the front or engaged upon munitions. There was not
a craftsman to be had. Nevertheless, several companies
were formed by men of foresight, and since demobiliza-
tion began some of the companies have got to work
and are turning out goods that the Germans or Swiss
could never compete with. Certain of the bigger machine
manufacturers, too, are now constructing their own
motors, instead of importing foreign makes, and we hope
before long to see every gramophone bearing an English
name British made in all its parts.
46 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
A visit to one of the new factories is a most interesting
experience. It was our privilege not long since to be
shown over one of the largest of them, where nothing
but gramophone motors are made on the exact principle
of mass production a notable post-war enterprise.
The buildings covered a large area and every depart-
ment was in full working order. From the store
THE TRIPLE-SPRING MOTOR UNIT OF A
(Shown inverted to display mechanical parts]
at one end bars and sheets of the finest steels were issued
into the main factory where a succession of whirring
machines absorbed them. Every one of these was
attended by highly skilled artificers, and as the metal
was passed along it was shaped and cut into all the
component parts, spindles, wheels, springs and screws,
until it was deposited at the far end with every minute
portion of the motor ready to be assembled. And
this goes on incessantly during the work hours. There
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 47
is no break, no waiting for fresh supplies. All
runs smoothly and with incredible rapidity. To the
uninitiated eye it seems like magic.
From this section of the works the finished parts are
at once transferred to other departments to be polished
and assembled. The delicate process of assembling is
almost entirely accomplished by girls and women,
whose busy fingers are never still. They have all been
specially trained in this branch and right deftly and
daintily they perform their work.
A section which impressed us as strongly as anything
we saw was the testing-room, where each completed
motor had to be put through its facings, as it were.
Gradations of speed have to be accurately determined,
and as every bit of mechanism is standardized, each
of the products has to run a stated number of records.
After that comes a most important function the test
for silence. The motor which is absolutely noiseless
is the ideal after which every manufacturer strives,
and it is amazing how near perfection this object has
been attained. The persons who perform the test are
all abnormally acute of hearing and have been specially
selected on that account. They listen with concen-
trated attention, and the very slightest buzz is at once
detected, with the result that the offending motor is
rejected. As in the past it has been a frequent occur-
rence for cheap motors to develop noise in running as
soon as their pristine newness has worn off, it is good
to see that these British makers pay a peculiar regard
to the silence test.
Before we left that factory we learned some important
facts which will doubtless surprise some of our readers.
Each motor consists of 84 separate parts, without
screws. If you include these the number mounts up
to 189, and everyone of them is turned out in the works,
THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
so you can understand why the l^reless fingers of the
assemblers appear to be so busy.
We will now proceed to what is undoubtedly the most
important factor in the reproduction of sound the
reproducer or sound box, as it is most commonly called.
Between the original type employed on the phonograph
and that now used on the disc machine there exists
a considerable difference, but that, after all, is only in
detail, the principle being the same
The diaphragm, which is the
true reproducer, may be made of
various substances, of which we
shall speak later. Anyone who
examines a sound box will have a
round flat surface presented to
him, resembling, to a certain
extent, the dial of a watch. That
is the diaphragm, and it is the
vibratory movement of that cir-
cular surface which causes the
sound to be sent forth, in fact,
you might compare it to the
vocal chords of the machine.
The box itself is invariably of metal. Other sub-
stances such as wood and vulcanite have been experi-
mented upon, but they have been found unsuitable,
because, being softer, they absorb the sound. Metal,
too, is more convenient for the exact fitting of the
parts. The form of the case is almost always round.
A square one with rounded corners has recently been seen,
and is said to give good results, but that is altogether
an exception. The case, which has a circular outlet in
the centre, having been manufactured, the next step in
the construction of a reproducer is the setting of the
By the courtesy of
Messrs. J. E. Hough, Ltd.
A TYPICAL SOUND
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 49
diaphragm. Two rubber rings, known as gaskets, are
inserted round the inner edge of the box in such a
manner as to grip the diaphragm tightly between them.
Then comes the fixing of the stylus bar, which is a
somewhat delicate process.
To the tyro we would explain that the stylus bar is
that little arm of steel it may be of other metal but
steel is the more frequently used which may be seen
advancing half-way across the face of the diaphragm.
It will be observed that it does not touch the material
from the side to the centre, but at the precise point in
the middle of the circle it is attached to the diaphragm
substance, having the end more or less bent round for
that purpose. The function of the stylus bar is to
impart the vibration to the diaphragm which has
arisen from the needle running along the track of the
record. To achieve this the butt of the stylus bar,
if we may so call it, is mounted on a fulcrum or bridge
where it receives a rocking motion from the record
which is instantaneously communicated to the dia-
phragm at its centre, thus giving the necessary thrust
and pull of vibration. Every sound box maker has a
different system for fixing and adjusting the stylus bar
upon its fulcrum with screws and springs, so that we
cannot speak of a universal method. New types are
being invented every day, but it will be hard to
beat the Exhibition sound box of the Gramophone
The back of the case may be made of the same metal
as the sides, or of aluminium or fibrous material, but
1 A very competent authority, Mr. Louis Young, maintains
that there is no need for a fulcrum or springs, and that the same
result could be achieved if the stylus bar were soldered to the
rim of the sound box. He gives as his reason that the waves
are molecular disturbances which would carry through without
50 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
great care must be taken that the plate is neither too
thick nor too thin, else the correct tonal effects will be
interfered with. There is a round opening in the
backing to permit the sound to pass through when the
box is attached to the gooseneck or tone arm. The size
and weight of the sound box are rather important
matters, because, in the first place, a heavy reproducer
will cause much greater wear and tear to records than a
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
THE EXHIBITION SOUND BOX
light one, and, in the second, if it be too light it will
probably fail to enter all the sinuosities of the track
and on that account give forth an imperfect reproduction.
In regard to size, it stands to reason that a large dia-
phragm will reproduce sounds of greater amplitude
than one smaller, but it is said by experts that what is
gained in volume is lost in fidelity, and that the big
diaphragm does not give us the finer shades that have
Concerning substances from which diaphragms have
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 51
been made, there is hardly anything of a hard, and at
the same time elastic nature which has not been tried.
Metals of various kinds, woods of all descriptions (includ-
ing cork), ivory, xylonite, paper, cardboard, mica and
glass, are among the most common of the materials
which have been used, and certain fibrous compositions
have also been employed, with, at least in one instance,
considerable success. Of all that we have enumerated,
however, there is none that can equal glass for both
brilliance and completeness of reproduction. At one
time it was much in use, but its brittleness and fragility
have caused it to be discarded in favour of mica. It is
still, however, largely in use for recording diaphragms,
in which capacity it is not exposed to the rough treat-
ment to which sound boxes are submitted by ignorant
gramophonists. Mica, being of laminated structure, is
apt to split, which is, of course, a drawback, but careful
selection and examination of the portions to be employed
will obviate such occurrences. Our friend Seymour,
among his countless other experiments, introduced a
diaphragm of baked carbon sheet, " with remarkable
results," he says, "as to strength and fidelity of tone,
but a certain deficiency in brilliancy was noticeable.
Its greatest success was most conspicuous with records
of large amplitude." He is convinced, he tells us, that
an excellent field of research lies in the direction of
malleable glass for diaphragm use. It is quite evident
that the last word has not yet been spoken concerning
All the Gramophone Company's machines, and indeed
almost all machines of quality are now provided with the
gooseneck attachment which facilitates the changing of
the needle. It is also claimed for it that it reduces any
harshness that there may be in the record, but we are
not altogether confident about that. However, there
52 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
can be no- gainsaying that it serves its first-mentioned
purpose well, and is a great convenience in use.
The tone arm for disc machines did not come into
general use until about the year 1905. We believe the
inventor to have been Jensen, but there are others who
lay claim to the innovation and we will not discuss the
matter. At all events, some time in the early years of
the present century the Gramophone Company took out
a patent for a tapered tone arm jointed to the horn or
amplifier. The taper in this accessory gave a gradual
increase in the circumference of the arm from the sound
box to the joint where it met the horn, thus amplifying
the sound the whole way, as we see in certain musical
instruments of the band and orchestra. Previously the
tone arm had been straight. In the early machines the
record had borne the whole weight of both sound box
and horn, but when the tone arm came in vogue the
horn was supported by a rigid bracket firmly screwed
to the cabinet and the tone arm swung free.
In 1906 the Gramophone Company brought an action
against Messrs. C. and J. Ullmann, who were running
the Odeon, for infringement of their tone arm patent.
The case caused much excitement in the talking
machine world, because at that time the contest between
cylinder and disc was at its height. Counsel argued
learnedly on both sides and experts were called as
witnesses by each litigant, but the Gramophone Com-
pany lost the day, with the result that anyone who
chose could use the tapered arm. We fancy that nowa-
days, the only manufacturing companies that do not use
it are the Columbia, who employ an arm fashioned at
its curve in the shape of a cornet, and Pathe Freres and
the Aeolian, their arms being straight.
Tone arms are chiefly made of metal, aluminium being
high in favour because of its lightness, but another of
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 53
Mr. Seymour's inventions has been the employment
of a closely grained wood tube between the sound box
and the second elbow. This, he maintains, is an improve-
ment, and we see no reason to disagree with him after
the change that has taken place by the substitution
of the wood horn for the old-fashioned tin. The manu-
facture of tone arms is another of those industries
which was mainly in the hands of the German, but
several firms have recently added this to other
kinds of metal work in the Midlands and are doing
uncommonly well. 1
The taste of the public seems now to run upon horn-
less machines of all sorts, and beautiful specimens
of the cabinet maker's art are displayed on all sides,
camouflaging the real instrument. Some of these
disguised gramophones cost as much as two or three
hundred pounds, and even more, the purchaser being
mulcted to that extent, not because of the superior
quality of the machine itself, but by reason of its appear-
ance as an article of furniture. To our mind the principle
of the concealed horn is an entire mistake. By the
irrefragible law of acoustics the tendency of sound is to
rise. What has now become the old-fashioned horn
diffused the sound throughout the apartment. The
concealed horn turns the sound down and it is emitted
through an opening in the body of the cabinet, which
may be closed or open. A frequent method is not to
1 We have quite recently seen a square wood tone arm in
connection with a hornless gramophone. It gives fairly good
results, but is not yet on the market. Another type is made of
hollowed beech, in two sections, smoothly polished inside and
out. It has just been brought out and is known as the " All
Wood " tone arm. Great difficulty was experienced by the
inventor in getting the tapered bore round the angle, but success
came to him at last, and the accessory promises to be of great
service. Used with a wooden amplifier all the disagreeable
metallic sound will disappear.
54 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
have a horn at all but a sound chamber which is of any
shape that the exigencies of space determine. If the
space be square the sound will reverberate from side to
side and become confused. Besides, being confined, the
sound must necessarily be restricted. It cannot give the
value in volume which was obtained from the open horn.
The best kind of open horn is, of course, that made of
wood. It does away with the harsh, metallic sound
A TYPICAL TABLE GRAND MODEL OF
THE COLUMBIA GRAFONOLA
which the early trumpets invariably gave forth, and was
in a great measure the cause of the prejudice which
formerly existed against the instrument. With a good
wood horn, and the best makes of other accessories, the
gramophone is not an instrument to be ashamed of,
and we see no reason why one should wish to hide his
talking machine under another guise a view shared,
we know, by several manufacturers, who, however,
have had to bow to the public demand for the cabinet
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 55
One of the most indispensable accessories of the
gramophone is the needle. In the cylinder machine it
is permanently affixed to the diaphragm in the form of
a sapphire or diamond point, but in the case of the disc
machine it is, except with phono-cut records, a separate
entity. Its duty is to follow the sound waves which
have been transformed into sinuosities in the bed of the
track and transmit the vibrations to the sound box,
where, as we have seen, these vibrations are reconverted
into sound by the diaphragm and sent out through the
tone arm and amplifier to the world at large. The needle,
then, is the first link in the chain between the record and
the human ear.
Many are the varieties of needles employed in the
reproduction of sound, the most common of all being
the short slip of steel wire sharpened to a point. These
are now manufactured in their thousands of millions and
are sold in boxes containing a hundred. Redditch,
which is the centre of the sewing needle and fish-hook
industry, took up the gramophone needle business as
soon as the makers found there was a demand for
these small wares, and has thus added considerably to
its prosperity. Sheffield, too, has done well out of them,
and there are small factories in other parts of the
Every record manufacturing company now send out
their own needles, but in the days when the Berliner disc
was first introduced to this country the purchaser of a
machine had to be content with a single, solitary needle
to play all records of the new class. One of the earliest
gramophone users in the United Kingdom has told us
that in the year 1893 he bought a Berliner " gramma-
phon," as the word was then spelt, and along with it
received the precious steel needle. This he kept for
three years, sharpening it occasionally on emery cloth.
56 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
When it defied sharpening he took to sewing needles.
What the state of that gentleman's records must have
been we dread to think.
When the Gramophone Company began to trade in disc
machines in this country at the commencement of this
century, they sold their needles separately, but they
were all of one class, loud toned and giving a coarse
reproduction. Soon afterwards it was discovered that
a great deal depended upon the needle in tone-value,
in true verisimilitude and in volume. Experiments
were made and different kinds of the steel needle were
manufactured, loud toned, soft toned, medium toned, and
so forth. Disc enthusiasts changed their needles for
each class of record, a certain needle for voice reproduc-
tion, another for instrumental, and still another for
bands and orchestras. Some went as far as to use
special needles for each kind of voice, soprano, contralto,
tenor and bass, and also for solo instruments, violin,
piano, etc. We are told that a few dilletanti do so
regularly now and doubtless they are on the right
The great drawback to the steel needle is that it should
never be used more than once. Some benighted people,
seeing directions to that effect upon the box, imagine
it to be a dodge to sell more needles, but they were never
more mistaken in their lives. If they desire to keep
their records from wearing out rapidly it is essential
that the needle should be changed with every disc
placed upon the turntable. The record is made of an
exceedingly hard, though somewhat brittle, material.
The track upon the surface, if extended in a straight line,
would measure several hundred feet. The point has
to traverse the whole of that distance, and must
necessarily become worn in doing so. If it were worn
evenly it would not so much matter, but the mischief
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC.
of it is that it is not. As the record revolves the needle
is pressed inwardly against the side of the groove, and
the point is ground flat where the pressure takes place.
As it gradually nears the centre of the disc the needle
becomes more upright and the pressure is not so great,
but in assuming its new position it presents an edge to
the side of the track which cuts into the substance,
By the courtesy of Messrs. J. E. Hough, Ltd.
UNUSED CHROMIC NEEDLE RUNNING- IN GROOVE
(Microscopically enlarged by James Scott)
hard though it be. When this needle is used again and
starts at the outside of the record it will be at a slightly
different angle, and the cutting process will begin
immediately. There was a splendid article upon this
subject in the Talking Machine News some time ago
by Mr. James Scott, the well-known microscopist, with
greatly magnified drawings of the damage done as seen
under the microscope. If every gramophone user were
to read that article and examine those illustrations he
58 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
would never submit a record to the same needle a second
In the year 1908 a Mr. Frederick Durize Hall, of
Chicago, took out a patent for what he called a " fibre "
needle, the material of which it is made being a fibrous
vegetable substance, " preferably bamboo." This
" preferably bamboo," we suppose, means that the patent
By the courtesy of Messrs J. E. Hough, Ltd.
NEEDLES SHOWING WEAR BY CONTACT WITH RECORD
should cover all types of fibre needles, but we don't
think that it would. Anyhow, bamboo is the " vegetable
substance " of which all these styli are formed, and for
the last nine or ten years a miniature war has been
waged between the supporters of the old-fashioned
steel needle and the followers of the new cult. There
can be no doubt that the army of the latter is increasing.
Recruits are coming in every day and the fibre has
gained a firm footing in the gramophone world. The
shape of this needle is triangular and the point is formed
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 59
by a slanting cross section so that one of the angles fits
into the groove of the record. In using this fibre
stylus it is necessary to have a triangular hole cut,
instead of the usual round one, in the needle socket of
the sound box, because the little screw of the holder will
not give a sufficiently firm grip. Having this done,
however, spoils the holder for future use with the steel
needle. To obviate this disadvantage Mr. Daws Clarke,
of Manchester, has patented an ingenious little fitment,
known as the Needle Tension Attachment, by which
either the steel or the fibre needle may be rendered
perfectly rigid. This invention gives an improved tone
to reproduction no matter which kind of needle is
used. There is also another accessory we have seen,
with a short round shank to fit in the round needle
hole, and a triangular cutting at the other end for the
To those who prefer a soft, and even reproduction,
with a diminution of surface scratch, to the loud, and
sometimes strident, tones of the steel needle, the fibre
is certainly to be recommended, but there is an imper-
fection in it that cannot be disguised. It will not last
more than one side of the record through without
re-sharpening, and we have found it fail to play a twelve
inch record satisfactorily to the end, which is most
annoying. Several little implements have been brought
out to effect the repointing, the best of which we consider
to be the Wade, a pliers like tool which is so set that
a blade snips off the point at the correct angle.
While on the subject of the fibre needle we may
mention that not long ago we had some ordinary hedge-
row thorns sent to us as samples by a gentleman who is
the secretary of one of our most prosperous talking
machine societies and a great enthusiast. These had been
cut, trimmed and dried, and though their appearance
60 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
might have been a little crude they gave forth a
reproduction almost as good as the vaunted fibre needle.
Under these circumstances there is no reason why every
gramophonist should not become his own needle provider.
There is another natural needle of which we have
heard excellent accounts, but it belongs to the animal
and not the vegetable kingdom. That is the hedgehog
spine. We have never listened to a record played by
this singular stylus, but we were in conversation with a
gentleman not long ago who had been spending a
holiday in Devonshire and had heard many reproduc-
tions by means of these sharp-pointed quills. His report
of them is entirely favourable. He tells us that he
believes them to be better than the fibre needle and that
the reproduction lasts longer.
To return to the steel needle, there is a variant of it
in the spear-point, of which there are a good many
varieties. The advantage of this is that it may be used
in three or four different ways. Having played a record
through with the flat of the spear head at right angles
to the groove you turn it round and get the other side
to work. That finished, by a half turn you get the
flanges parallel with the track, and you can repeat the
operation for the remaining side. It is said that by
these four turns the two double-sided records which they
cover do not suffer, but we " ha'e oor doots."
Besides the sapphire and diamond tipped styli used
for phono-cut records which are permanently attached
to the sound box, there was put upon the market some
years ago a diamond pointed needle shaped not unlike
a very small peg-top with a thin shank to fit into the
ordinary holder, and we understand a needle of the same
description with a glass point was also tried, but the
difficulty and expense of manufacture proved too
great, though the points were practically everlasting.
MOTORS, SOUND BOXES, HORNS, ETC. 61
Tungsten wire fitted into a nickel sheath is the latest
thing for the needle-cut disc. The first of these that we
saw came to us all the way from Chile, some two or three
years ago, but we were not greatly impressed by it.
Since then the Gramophone Company have brought out
a similar stylus, under the name of the Tungstyle Needle,
but in our opinion it will not be a success. The repro-
duction by it is thin and hard like the needle itself, and
though it is guaranteed to play something like a hundred
and fifty records without the necessity of changing,
we don't believe it will ever take the place of a good
soft steel point. Tungsten, of course, is ever so much
harder than steel, and its wearable quality is therefore
vastly superior, but there the advantage of the tungstyle
stops. There are hard steel needles issued by various
manufacturers which will play up to ten records without
wear, but we never heard any of these that we cared
for. The tone has always been too metallic. The
Chromic needle, issued by J. E. Hough, Ltd., is, however,
a good one. It is of a golden hue and will play its ten
records without fail. As good a needle as we know is
the Ideal belonging to the Columbia Company, and this
we most frequently use for the sample records submitted
to us for review, this being a soft-tone (piano), though
we believe the same company's loud- tone (forte)
" Superbe " needle is most popular generally.
The war between the fibre and the steel needle still
goes on, and we daresay will continue to go on till some
new material is discovered combining the good qualities
of both. Until then we shall remain strictly neutral.
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE
ONCE upon a time we had our voice recorded upon a
disc, so that we can tell from personal experience what
the initiatory process is like. It was about ten years
ago and we had perpetrated what in our secret soul we
imagined to be a poem. We daresay it was poor stuff,
but, as the subject was topical, the manager of a certain
company believed it might have an ephemeral sale,
which would pay for the production and a bit more,
so we were persuaded to have it embalmed in shellac.
As a matter of fact the record was a dead failure, not
from the recording point of view, but because it was
actually too late for the market. The presumably
wretched verses, we may tell you, were recited not
Having ascended an interminable number of stairs
we found ourselves in an absolutely bare apartment
save for a single music stand. A tall, stout young
gentleman he is now one of the greatest recording
experts in the world came to us and in an affable
manner announced that everything was ready. He
pointed to a long trumpet-like tube which projected
from the wall and directed us to take up our position in
front of it with our mouth about 6 ins. from the opening.
" When the light shows," he said " you can fire away."
Then he left us alone. It was desperately uncanny,
but we braced ourselves for the inevitable.
Presently the light flashed, and we spouted for all
we were worth to an unseen audience. Half-way through
we made a slip and immediately the light signalled.
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE 63
The young gentleman spoke from the other side of the
wall. " It's a pity," he remarked; " you were doing
very well, but I've got another blank."
After a time the light flashed once more and we started
from the beginning as before. Straight through we
went to the end without a falter, and then there came
from beyond the partition the order to wait a minute.
We waited till all at once there broke upon our ear from
the other end of the horn an unknown voice repeating
the rhymes we had previously uttered on the spoiled
record. It was most curious, but it did not sound to
ourselves as our own voice. Robert Burns says, " Oh,
wad some power the giftie gi'e us to ^ee oorsels as
ithers see us," but the gramophone has now brought to
us the power of hearing ourselves as others hear us,
and the result is not in the least like that which we had
imagined. We are deceived by our own tones. Our
friends hear them in quite a different key from that
in which we believe them to be uttered ; at least, that
was our first impression on listening to them. After-
wards, when we became accustomed to the record, the
strange feeling wore off.
For a few minutes we stood in the bare room waiting
for further developments, and then the recorder returned
to us. In his open hands he carried the wax wherein
was deposited our poem with all its imperfections.
" I believe I've got you all right," he said, and we
put on our glasses and gazed upon the thing he held.
There was nothing to be seen except the crowded grooves
upon the substance he displayed to us. We intimated
that we were satisfied, and shaking hands with the man
who had taken irrevocable possession of our voice, we
descended the long, long stairs and so to the busy street.
A few days afterwards catastrophe befell. A wire
called us back to the recording room. In the process of
THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
manufacture the wax master had been damaged, and
the whole operation of recording had to be repeated.
This delayed the issue of the disc and the market
was lost. For that reason our poem has not gone down
to posterity, and we remain a " mute inglorious Milton."
All recordings, however, are not performed in the
SIR HENRY J. WOOD CONDUCTING THE NEW QUEEN S
HALL ORCHESTRA FOR A COLUMBIA RECORD
simple fashion we have described. There are the vocal
records of duets, trios, quartettes and choruses to be
made, with their accompaniments. Then we have
bands and orchestras. All the great military bands,
Grenadiers, Coldstreams, Scots Guards, Irish Guards
and Welsh Guards are constantly being recorded, and
to pack these big organizations into a recording room
requires a good deal of ingenuity. The performers,
too, must be placed in such positions that no single
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE 65
instrument must predominate, the just ensemble
must be preserved. Experience has taught how this
is to be adjusted, and the conductor who has had a good
knowledge of the recording room will generally settle
his men down or up without much difficulty.
When a large body of musicians have to make a record
there are often three or four recording horns employed,
converging on a point in the partition for the purpose
of collecting the sound waves and concentrating them
upon the diaphragm. It will at once be perceived that
in this way a fuller reproduction can be accomplished.
There are certain musical instruments which have
proved very baffling to the recorder. For many years
the violin and the piano were both enormous stumbling
blocks. Indeed, it is only quite recently that the latter
has been brought into subjection. Formerly the notes
of a piano, as heard on the talking machine, seemed to
emanate from a banjo, but now, by dint of careful
experiment and enlarged experience, the recording
expert has brought the reproduction as close to perfec-
tion as the gramophone up to the present time can bring
it. We listened a few weeks ago to a record from which
was reproduced a piece by Saint Sae'ns, played by the
great French pianist, M. Alfred Cortot, in which the
exact tones of a grand piano were given without the
slightest difference from the instrument, save for the
inevitable surface scratch. It is now the same with the
In November, 1920, there arrived in this country
from America eight records by that amazing Russian
youth, Jascha Heifetz. A party of the greatest musicians
and critics in this country was called together at the
Piccadilly Hotel to hear them. Those experts were
astounded at the marvellous technique of the young
executant he was then only nineteen so much so,
66 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
indeed, that one of the most noted composers of England
dubbed him " the modern Paganini." Six months later
Heifetz himself reached London to give four perform-
ances in as many weeks at the Queen's Hall. At the
first of these there was a great gathering of the cognoscenti.
Next morning the worst one of our leading dailies could
find to say against the youthful virtuoso was that he
played exactly like his records. It was intended for
disparagement, but could a greater tribute have been
paid to the gramophone ? Incidentally we may mention
that, before Heifetz set his foot on British soil, the
Gramophone Company, of Hayes, Middlesex the great
concern which manufactures and issues the famous
" His Master's Voice" discs had sold no fewer than
70,000 of his records ! This is an extraordinary -fact,
and illustrates very clearly the vast development of the
talking machine industry in this country within recent
To get behind the scenes of the recording room, that
is, into the sanctum sanctorum of the recorder, is a very
difficult matter, for the secrets there are most jealously
guarded. It has been our privilege, however, to be
admitted into one of these inner sanctuaries, and,
without giving away any of the hidden technicalities
of the process we witnessed, for each recorder has his
own individual methods, we can give a general description
which will not reveal more than is necessary.
On stepping into the private domain of the recording
expert we were at once sensible of a considerable rise
in the temperature. We read in a newspaper the other
day that this access of heat is perceptible in the outer
room, but we cannot say that, on the occasion of
our first visit, when we made the record of which we
have spoken, we experienced the slightest change.
However, we dare say, if the exterior recording room
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE 67
be crowded with a band, orchestra, or full chorus the
atmosphere would become somewhat stifling. There
is no necessity for the public room, as we may call it, to
be artificially heated, but it is different with the inner
chamber. There the temperature must be maintained
at a certain height because the wax of the blanks has
to be of the requisite consistency for the recording
needle to run smoothly. These blanks are kept in
warmed cupboards around the room, and when the
operator is at work they must be in perfect condition.
Several of them may be spoiled in the making of a record,
when they have afterwards to be submitted to a process
of " shaving " by a special instrument invented for the
Although we play on the talking machine with one
sound box for all manner of records, in the cutting of the
blank many different sound boxes are used. Thus the
recorder will employ one for soprano, another for
contralto, and so on, varying his reproducers as experience
has taught him. It is wonderful what a variety are
necessary. For instance, a sound box which will make a
perfect reproduction of a violin solo will be of no use in
recording a string quartette, so one can imagine the
years of close study and intense application which the
expert must go through before he is qualified to make a
record of a Caruso or a Heifetz. There are not many
highly skilled recorders, and it is not needful that there
should be, for the record manufacturers in this country
are few and far between ; but when once a manufac-
turing firm has found an expert who is thoroughly
capable it is very loth to let him go, so that most of these
truly scientific gentlemen may reckon upon high salaries
and continuous service.
In making a record it is absolutely incumbent upon the
recording machine being completely stable, for the
68 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
slightest vibration of the stylus other than that imparted
by the diaphragm will render the reproduction worth-
less. Therefore, not only must the turntable on which
the blank is imposed run freely and steadily, but the
supports must be immovable, so that no tremor can
reach the wax while the stylus is doing its work. The
motive power varies in different recording rooms.
Some prefer an electric motor, while others use weight-
driven mechanism like those of the old-fashioned
grandfather's clocks, but heavier. The latter was the
system in vogue with the firm whose room we were
allowed to inspect. They claim that the movement is
steadier, though even then, delicately balanced
governors are adjusted to ensure invariability.
We have previously mentioned that the recording
diaphragm is almost always of glass, as it is the substance
most amenable to the action of the sound waves. A
lever attachment fits it to the cutting point, which is in
nearly every case a jewel that has been most carefully
treated for the purpose of performing its work with the
The wax blank having been selected, dusted to remove
every particle of foreign matter and placed upon the
turntable, the recorder gives the signal and the pianist
in the next room begins the symphony to a song. The
artist follows with the air and all the time the blank is
spinning with the turntable. We watch it with a
sort of fascination. Thin threads of composition curl
up from the jewel point and are blown off as
they rise, till presently the song is finished, and the
vacant space on the wax has become covered with
the grooves that are so familar to us on the finished
On the day we visited the company's premises the
artist who was engaged was a well-known lady singer,
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE 69
who is a great favourite among gramophone users. She
has made many records and is quite accustomed to the
horn, yet the expert would not allow the first to pass.
He put it through on the wax, but it would not satisfy
him, and it was not until he had taken the third or fourth
of the same song, that he gave a kind of grumbling
consent to let it go. You see, these gentlemen are so
When, at last, he was to a certain extent pleased, he
took up the wax, went over it carefully with a camel's
hair brush and packed it in a box with cotton wool.
It was ready to be dispatched to the factory.
That was the whole of our recording room experience,
but it was only the beginning of the adventures of the
disc. It had still to go through several processes before
it emerged from the factory a fully developed record.
Some of these we have attempted to explain in our chap-
ter on the Disc Machine, but there will be no harm in
laying the whole process before our readers succinctly
and clearly before we pass on to other matters.
As soon as the wax record, which is called the master,
arrives at the factory it is plunged into the electrotyping
bath which deposits on its surface a copper coating
that enters into every twist and wriggle made by the
recording needle within the grooves. These, of course,
represent the sound waves passed on by the vibrations
of the diaphragm. When this coating is sufficiently
thick it is removed and brings with it the exact impres-
sion of the wax reversed. This forms a complete mould
and might be used as such, as, indeed, it was at one
time, but so many accidents by breakage and such
like took place that nowadays the companies run no
risks. Other wax impressions are made from it which
in their turn are electrotyped, so that several matrices
are formed, which are then nickel-plated, polished and
70 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
receive a strong backing of heavy steel as a support.
They are then ready for the presses. Before going into
that, however, we may as well tell you about the
substance that is pressed into the moulds.
Recently there has been a good deal of grumbling
about the advanced prices of records, and some of the
manufacturing companies have explained that the
chief contributing cause of this has been the enormously
increased cost of shellac. Numbers of the public wanted
to know what shellac had to do with it, being com-
pletely unaware that shellac is the principal ingredient
in the manufacture of disc records. Many believed
that the discs, with their beautifully polished surfaces,
were made of vulcanite. In fact, a friend of ours only
the other day was so convinced of this that he offered
to lay pretty heavy odds that they were. It was a
difficult matter to undeceive him, and not until we
produced a book on the subject would he admit that he
was wrong. The actual ingredients are shellac, the
mineral barytes, rotten stone, flock (made from rags)
and lamp-black. Different companies use these com-
ponents in varying quantities, but if the records be
analysed they will all be found to consist of each of these
substances. They are ground together and then passed
through heated rollers which melt the shellac, with the
result that the whole becomes a soft black paste which
hardens when cold, and is then broken up into square
When the discs pass into the pressing room the steel
backing is laid upon a heated table with the mould
upwards, and the label of the record is placed face
downwards against the centre of the mould. A few
pieces of the hard black preparation are then heated
until they soften, when they are transferred to the warm
disc. If a single-sided record be desired a steel plate
HOW GRAMOPHONE RECORDS ARE MADE 71
of the size of the under disc is placed on the top, but if
the record is to be double-faced, another mould is placed
face downwards over the black material, with the label
between. The pair are then moved into a powerful
hydraulic press and the black composition is flattened
out to the thickness of the record, working itself into
every groove and infinitesimal sinuosity by the pressure
placed upon it. When it cools it is quite hard and only
requires trimming, which is done by placing the record
between two revolving discs and applying sandpaper
to the whirling edge. The labels have adhered to the
centre of the record by reason of the sticky nature of
the shellac, and the records are then carried off to the
examiner who tests them. The inferior ones are rejected
and those which are passed are placed in the envelopes
for the market.
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES
IN England at the present time there are four com-
panies manufacturing the higher priced records. Of
these The Gramophone Company, Ltd., undoubtedly
holds the field. The history of this extensive concern
has already been referred to cursorily in a previous
chapter, but we would like to lay before the reader a
more comprehensive chronicle of its origin and rise.
Like most of the other large firms engaged in the
industry The Gramophone Company began its career
in America. As previously stated, Berliner was the
man who gave the term " gramophone " to his invention
of a disc machine, though he never claimed an exclusive
right thereto. In 1896 or 1897 Berliner sold his English
patent rights, including, it is said, his rights in respect
of certain patented improvements, to a private firm
calling itself The Gramophone Company, taking its
name from the instrument. In 1899 this concern
transferred its business to a company incorporated
under the style of The Gramophone Company, Limited,
the object of which, as defined by its Memorandum of
Association, embraced, inter alia, the manufacture and
sale of gramophones and phonographs and gramophone
discs and phonograph cylinders. The last mentioned
firm continued to sell machines and discs made under
Berliner's patent until the following year, when it
parted with its business to a company with a larger
capital. This new concern had about the same time
acquired an interest in typewriters, and was incorporated
as The Gramophone and Typewriter Company, Limited.
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 73
The same year the Tainter-Bell patent expired, and the
graving method being considered superior to etching,
the company abandoned the latter process and adopted
the former, continuing, however, to use the name of
gramophone. There was nothing wrong in that, for
the essence of the Berliner system was the sinuous
line of even depth and the word " gramophone " had
come to denote a disc talking machine, as opposed to the
phonograph and graphophone which were at that time
operated by cylinders.
The Gramophone and Typewriter Company estab-
lished a branch in England almost as soon as it was
inaugurated, with Mr. Barry Owen as its representative,
and some time afterwards dropped the typewriter
section of the business, reverting to the old title of The
Gramophone Company, Ltd. They had their offices in
Maiden Lane, Co vent Garden, and so rapid was the
growth of this British branch that a company was
formed with a share capital of 600,000, the ordinary
shares in the first instance being offered to the trade.
Thereupon they removed to the City Road where they
remained in full swing until the extensive works at
Hayes, Middlesex, which were opened in 1907, were
ready to receive the army of workers of every description
attached to the firm. This enormous factor}/ has been
enlarged and developed since that date until it now
covers twenty-three acres of ground.
Ever since the expiry of Berliner's 1887 patent The
Gramophone Company had arrogated to itself the sole
right to the term " gramophone." In its dealings with
the trade it had consistently claimed monopoly rights
in the word as denoting goods of its own manufacture
only, and by warning circulars, legal proceedings and
threats of legal proceedings, had done its best to support
its exclusive claims. Other manufacturers refrained
74 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
from describing their instruments as gramophones
from the dread of infringing the alleged rights of the
company. The gigantic bubble, however, was destined
to be pricked.
In the year 1910 the company applied for power to
register the term " gramophone " as applicable solely
to the wares manufactured and dealt in by them. The
most memorable case ever heard of in the talking
machine world of this country ensued. It came before
Mr. Justice Parker and lasted four days. Experts,
legal and otherwise, were called, examined and cross-
examined. The court was crammed with all the
leading lights of the trade, who were there either as
witnesses or as spectators. At length judgment was
pronounced Power was refused, and the word " gramo-
phone " became the property of anyone who had a
disc machine to sell. A verbatim note of the whole
proceedings was taken at the time by the Talking
Machine News, and was published the morning after
judgment was delivered. It was the only paper that
printed the case in extenso.
In legal matters The Gramophone Company have been
rather unfortunate, for previous to the case we have
spoken of they lost one over the Gibson tapering tone arm
in 1906. This was an invention for which they claimed
sole rights. These were disputed and the action went
against them. Nevertheless, if they have been unlucky
in the courts it cannot be denied they have been mar-
vellously successful in business. Before the war there
were subsidiary companies in various capitals of Europe,
and they were connected with the great Victor Company
of America, which has now a large controlling interest
in the concern. The Zonophone Company, too, has been
absorbed by this firm.
During the war a portion of the huge factory at
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 75
Hayes, the foundation-stone of which, by the way, was
laid by Madame Tetrazzini, was given over to the
manufacture of munitions. It is believed that The
Gramophone Company was the first industrial concern,
not normally engaged on Government contracts, to
convert their plant. Within ten days of the declaration
of war, the output of certain essential fuse parts was
commenced. These required extraordinary accuracy
and the mechanism at command of the company enabled
them to make a beginning almost at once.
Of the artists exclusively engaged to make the famous
" His Master's Voice " records for the company we shall
speak later, and in the chapter devoted to the " Talking
Machine as a Teacher " we shall have something to say
of the firm's efforts in that direction.
In 1899 The Columbia Phonograph Company was
established in Washington, U.S.A., thus it may be
said to be among the very earliest of the concerns to
enter the industry, and it has been one of the most
successful. As early as 1887, however, the parent
company of the Columbia, and literally the pioneers in
the industry, had put machines and cylinders on the
market under licence from Bell and Tainter. Being
unable to carry out some of their contracts, the American
Company made arrangements with several others in the
various States to act as sales-agents, while the original
company limited their efforts to the manufacturing side.
The Columbia Company secured one of these sales-agen-
cies, and were restricted by agreement to the three States
of Columbia, Delaware and Maryland. This restriction
did not last long, however, for the prosperity of the
Columbia was such that presently it ousted all the
other agencies, extending its business throughout the
whole of the United States. Not content with that,
it opened branches all over the world and subsequently
76 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
swallowed up the American Graphophone Company itself.
Here it may be noted that, as we fancy we have men-
tioned before, it was T. H. Macdonald, of the Grapho-
phone Company, who perfected the spring motor. Up
till then electricity had been used for the driving power,
but with the clockwork mechanism methods were
simplified and the cost of machines considerably
When the Columbia Company removed their chief
offices from Washington to New York, Mr. Frank
Dorian was placed in charge as general manager. This
move occasioned a vast expansion of trade and Mr.
Dorian was sent to Paris to superintend the establish-
ment of the European connection . His energy proved
invaluable. Rapid strides were made in Paris and a
branch was soon opened in Berlin. The following year
the London business was reorganized and its head-
quarters formed in a five storey building in Oxford
Street This was made the controlling centre for Europe,
and Columbia was flourishing like the green bay tree,
Later their swiftly developing progress warranted a
removal to larger premises in Great Eastern Street,
closer to the seat of the British trade which lies in that
neighbourhood. At that time, of course, their records
were all cylinders, but they were doing admirable work.
It was about this time that they contrived to obtain
a record of the voice of Pope Leo XIII, a circumstance
which we have already noted. It was issued almost on
the very day of the venerable Pontiff's death, and so
made a great sensation in Catholic circles. They also
secured some valuable cylinders of famous singers of
the time, and set a fashion later developed by the discs
of the Gramophone Company.
Finding that, in England, the disc was supersed-
ing the cylinder, the Columbia built a factory at
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 77
Wandsworth and started manufacturing lateral cut
records. It was an excellent step on their part, for they
got hold of some of the best voices and instrumentalists
in the kingdom and their productions had a great
vogue. This company has played a conspicuous part
in the fortunes of the industry here, doing excellent
pioneer work in various directions, and aiming to
elevate the public taste in gramophone music.
With the advent of Mr. Louis Sterling as European
manager of the company fresh life was imparted into
the business, and their instruments, the celebrated
Grafonolas, have a great sale, while the records find
purchasers by the million. The Regal, a cheaper
record, is also issued by them and is much appreciated
by gramophone users whose purses are not so well
filled as those of the purchasers of the higher grade
Pathe Freres, who had been doing a very large con-
tinental trade, came into the English market in 1902.
By the exercise of a little ingenuity, aided by Mr. J. E.
Hough, they had previously circumvented the Edison
embargo. No sooner, however, were they free to export
their goods from France to England than they began to
do an extensive trade with us. The Pathe discs are
phono-cut, i.e. they are of the hill and dale variety
invented by Edison, and therefore require to be played
with a special needle. To this end the firm supplies a
sound box of its own with a permanent attachment of
a ball-pointed sapphire. Quite recently it has brought
out a reproducer which by a simple contrivance permits
of a steel needle to be used for the lateral cut disc as
In the early days Pathe records were played from the
centre outward to the periphery of the disc, but since
the company erected a British factory on this side
78 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
the Channel they have reversed their old system and the
record is now played in the same manner as other discs.
Those old discs were splendid fellows, nearly 14 ins.
across and embodied the voices of many of the best
continental artists. The firm actually prevailed upon
Sara Bernhardt to record her incomparable tones, and
in the years to come that disc ought to be worth much
more than its weight in gold. The records are now
somewhat reduced in size, conforming more to the
width of ordinary makes, but the best of them at the
present time are the most expensive on sale in England.
It is worthy of mention that Pathe Freres were the first
to introduce the language-teaching record, and it is
quite possible that they may revert to this very useful
method of instruction now that there is a demand for
easy systems of learning foreign tongues. 1
Besides building a factory here in England, Messrs.
Pathe" have established a large business in America,
which we understand is extremely prosperous. M.
Jacques Pathe is at the head of affairs in London, and
is a shrewd and competent director. He fought in the
war for his country and received high commendation for
his service. Although it has nothing to do with this
little book it may not be out of place to state that Pathe
Freres are a firm with very extensive interests in the
kinematograph world. The House of Pathe, with its
defiant chanticleer as a trade-mark has branches in
every corner of the civilized globe, and its machines and
discs are familiar to everyone who has the slightest
knowledge of the reproduction of sound.
The Aeolian Company of America first came into
notice as the manufacturers of player-pianos and
1 Since the above was written, Pathe Freres have brought out
a needle-cut disc, the Actuelle, which seems to be doing fairly
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 79
instruments of that genre. With untold capital behind
them they forged ahead with remarkable vigour. A
fine hall, with magnificent show-rooms and business
premises, was erected on an advantageous site in New
York, and as if by magic the great corporation bounded
into the forefront of the musical manufacturing world.
But this was not achieved without deep thought and
careful planning. For a long time there had been active
brains at work, considering, devising, scheming, and not
until every action of the future had been thoroughly
weighed and balanced was a move made. As soon as
the company felt itself to be on a sound and solid basis
it mentally bridged the Atlantic and set up an English
house in Bond Street, London. The Aeolian Hall on
this side, with its high-class concerts and musical enter-
tainments, is now one of the most popular features of
the West End, and the Aeolian Orchestra, a specially
selected body of musicians, is second to none in the
kingdom. The spirit of enterprise pervaded the
minds of all those who were in any way connected with
the firm, and it was this spirit that brought forth the
Aeolian- Vocalion, the talking machine which is the
company's special product.
We are told that, in the late summer of 1912, there
arrived in London a Mr. F. J. Empson, a resident of
Sydney, Australia. He brought with him a gramophone
in which was embodied a wonderful patented device
for controlling musical effects. This, in the opinion of
its inventor, added so immeasurably to the musical
value and charm of the instrument that he thought he
had but to show it to manufacturers to secure its immedi-
ate adoption. As has been the fate of so many geniuses,
mechanical and otherwise, since the world began, Mr.
Empson found it impossible to gain a satisfactory audi-
ence with those whom he approached. Discouraged
80 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
and depressed he purchased his passage home
and was on the point of sailing, when he accidentally
encountered a friend to whom he related his disap-
pointing experiences. This friend was well acquainted
with the officials of the Aeolian Company's London house,
and earnestly advised the poor, disheartened inventor to
make one more attempt to have his contrivance exploited.
He told him of the company and directed him to their
With just one faint ray of hope illuminating the
darkness of his mind, the inventor made his way to Bond
Street. For the first time since his arrival in England
the reception that he met with was satisfactory. The
Aeolian officials were so impressed with the value of
the new feature that they took an option on the patents,
and instead of returning to Australia, he and his instru-
ment were immediately shipped across to the head
offices of the company in New York. There the directors
and experts at once grasped the possibilities of the
invention. Without delay they had the patents investi-
gated, and on finding them sound and inclusive, closed
with the inventor on a mutually satisfactory basis.
Thus was the Aeolian- Vocalion, with its Graduola
attachment, launched upon the world.
Apart from the advance made by the company in the
style of their machines and the accuracy of reproduction
of all records submitted to the test of the turntable,
the Aeolian-Vocalion itself was voiceless, which means
the firm manufactured no records of their own. That
was to be a big consideration for the future. In the
meantime the energies of the concern were concentrated
upon the Graduola. This device obviated the use of
different toned needles, the muting of horns, the opening
and closing of shutters, and all the various methods
which had been adopted of altering the tone of the
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 81
gramophone to suit the ear of the listener. It gave
into the hands of the operator a perfect means of con-
trolling the reproduction of the record. Modulation of
the voice of a singer could be governed at the will of
the gramophone user, and in that way the listener
could guide to his ear inflexions and variations
which were more agreeable to him than the actual
It may be said that this principle is altogether wrong,
and that if you choose to vary the conception of the
vocalist you do not get the true value of the voice. This
is undoubtedly quite right, but it very often happens
that the idea of the listener is at variance with the idea
of the singer. We know many persons who have no
liking for the forceful tones of Caruso, but by the use of
the Graduola these may be so subdued that their beauty
can be acknowledged and appreciated. The musical
instinct of the listener imperceptibly directs him while
he holds the little attachment in his hands.
The simple contrivance of Mr. Empson, like many
other inventions, was merely the adaptation of a known
fact to a new outlet. Everybody knows that air carries
sound and that if the current be reversed the sound
becomes fainter. Therein lies the secret of the Graduola.
A slender, flexible tube connects the gramophone with
the operator. At the end in the fingers of the manipu-
lator is a valve which he pushes in or retracts according
to his personal desire. Thus the sound given forth
from the machine is regulated at the will of the performer.
He, or she, can therefore listen to the record in the
manner desired. It is as simple as A, B, C, but it had
never been applied to the talking machine before the
Aeolian-Vocalion made their arrangement with the
We have spoken of the Aeolian-Vocalion being
82 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
voiceless, inasmuch as the company produced no records,
but that deficiency has, happily for all gramophone
enthusiasts, been adequately made good. After more
than two years of unremitting experiment the company
have placed upon the market records which will hold
their own, if not surpass, any that have previously
been brought before the public. To our knowledge
they have scrapped thousands which they did not
consider up to the mark, and from their well equipped
factory at Hayes, nothing but the very best are issued.
They have secured good artists, although the field has
been somewhat restricted in consequence of other
companies having enrolled the greatest of vocalists
and instrumentalists, yet they have made a splendid
start and we feel certain that, as time goes on, they will
hold one of the most exalted positions in the talking
Of cheap records one of the most popular of ah 1 is
the Winner of J. E. Hough, Ltd., their annual
output amounting on an average to 6,000,000, the
present price being 2s. 6d. This go-ahead concern has
now produced a higher priced record, the Velvet
Faced (V.F.) in two sizes, 12 in. and 10 in., at 5s. 6d.
and 3s. 6d. These are lovely discs with very little
The Zonophone, which belongs, as we have already
stated, to the Gramophone Company, is a wonderful
record at 3s., celebrities such as Sir Harry Lauder and
a few others being a shilling dearer. Regal are the
property of the Columbia Company and are well worth
the 2s. 6d. charged for them. The Coliseum, Scala,
Popular and Guardsman records are also of the cheap
Since writing of the Edison disc in a previous chapter
we have heard that these records are being imported
THE BIG MANUFACTURING COMPANIES 83
into this country in quantities and that they are much
better than the first arrivals. Let us hope that this may
be so, for those we listened to when first they made
their appearance were atrocious. Edison has his
idolaters we are not of them.
An important phase, worth mentioning here, is that
of the commercial phonograph, the most popular of
which is the " Dictaphone," manufactured by the
Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd. The " Dictaphone "
is a phonograph used by business men for direct dicta-
tion, dispensing with the shorthand writer, the steno-
grapher transcribing from the cylinder, which repeats
what has been recorded. It is a modern time-saving
device and its success is such that most shipping and
railway companies, banks, and large commercial houses
equip every department, some of them having forty or
more " Dictaphones " installed in this way. This,
curiously enough, is the only form in which the one-time
universal cylinder record exists the disc proving
unwieldy for this purpose.
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS
IN the very early days of the phonograph it was really
a talking machine, for the first records of the human
voice ever made were of speaking, not of singing. The
congratulatory speech, or rather, message, of Mr.
Gladstone to Edison on the success of the latter's great
achievement was the kind of thing which did duty over
and over again. It was unscrupulously imitated when
the first cylinders became worn out, as they very rapidly
did in those days before a hardening process was invented.
Other great men were pressed into the service, and in
quite recent years statesmen of the present day have been
induced to make speeches into the recording horn.
At first, however, it was difficult to get singers of note
to record their voices. Sir Landon Ronald, the Prin-
cipal of the Guildhall School of Music, who was an early
enthusiast on behalf of the gramophone, has told in an
interview of the trouble he had to get over the scruples
of Ben Davies, our great English tenor. Davies
laughed at the bare idea of singing into a tin trumpet,
but at length Mr. Ronald, as he then was, prevailed
upon him to make the experiment, and accompanied
him to the recording room of the Gramophone Company.
Treating the matter more as a joke than anything else,
notwithstanding the fact that the fee was a substantial
one, the brilliant singer took up his position in front of
the horn and gave forth to the world at large one of
his favourite ballads. If we mistake not, the song was
" My Pretty Jane," and when the famous vocalist
heard it presently come back to him through the horn
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS
he was electrified. That was many years ago, but
Mr. Davies, well over sixty years of age, is still making
records for the talking machine, in fact, he is on the
exclusive list for the Columbia Company, and his
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
MADAME ADELINA PATTI
beautiful voice, despite the lapse of time, is as clear as
The immortal diva, Adelina Patti, for a long period
set her lovely face dead against all temptations of the
record, and it was not until her final retirement from the
operatic stage that she consented to submit her marvel-
lous notes to the judgment of posterity. It was in 1905
that she chanced to hear some remarkable records by
Caruso. She was then sixty-two and living privately
with her husband at Craig-y-Nos, her charming castle
in Wales. Though she had been frequently urged in
86 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
the past to allow her voice to be impressed upon a disc
she had consistently declined. The Caruso records,
however, wrought a change in her. Suddenly, of her own
accord, he sent to the Gramophone Company asking for
arrangements to be made to have her voice recorded.
The officials of the company were astonished, for they
were well aware of her aversion to the talking machine,
but they at once hastened to take advantage of her
change of mind, lest, with a lady's privilege, she might
change it again. The highly skilled recording expert
of the firm, with assistants and musicians for the accom-
paniments, together with all the necessary apparatus
were dispatched to Wales without delay, and within a
week several records were secured. It was a great
triumph for the company. Besides many of her favour-
ite operatic airs, she placed upon the blanks such old
English, Scottish, Irish and American tunes as " Coming
through the Rye " ; " Home, Sweet Home " ; " Kathleen
Mavourneen " ; " The Last Rose of Summer " ; " The Old
Folks at Home " ; " Robin Adair " and " Within a mile
o' Edinboro' Town." The vibrations of the sound
waves of these were imbedded in the wax and carried
off victoriously to London to be transferred to the disc
composition in which they will remain until the crack of
doom. Still, it is only right to, state that, as the com-
pany tell us in their illustrated catalogue, the art of
recording the human voice has improved so rapidly
since then that these records cannot with justice be
compared with records of great artists which are now
being issued. Nevertheless, they give a remarkably good
idea of the richness and flexibility of Patti's notes.
The earliest recordings of Caruso were made as far
back as 1902, shortly after the famous Neapolitan had set
all Italy ablaze with the wonder of his singing. No sooner
did the news of this epoch-moving phenomenon reach
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS
England than the Gramophone Company determined
to make a capture of his voice at all hazards. Emissaries
were appointed to proceed to Milan, where the new
tenor was then appearing at La Scala, and the journey
was undertaken in hot haste. These ambassadors were
furnished with a full equipment for recording the
voice, and were empowered to make terms with the
By the courtesy of the
Gramophone Co., Ltd.
CARICATURE OF CARUSO MAKING A RECORD
Drawn by himself
great vocalist whatever they might be. It was an
enterprise which must not be allowed to fail. They
found Caruso a most amiable and genial young gentle-
man quite willing to accede to their proposals for a
consideration. That consideration was by no means a
small one, but the emissaries having carte blanche
everything was satisfactorily arranged, the tenor of
tenors entered into an agreement to sing for no other
recording company, and the agreement was most
faithfully adhered to for twenty years. Caruso's notes can
be heard on no other discs than those of " His Master's
88 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Voice." During the whole of that long period he
made no fewer than 112 solos for the company, besides
taking part in 32 duets, 4 trios, 6 quartets, 1 quintet
and 2 sextets, 157 records in all.
Dame Nellie Melba, the most gifted soprano of the
later years of last century and, as far as they have gone,
of this, has made a great many delightful records for the
Gramophone Company. It has been complained by some
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd
DAME NELLIE MELBA
that, in technical phrase, she does not record well, which
means, of course, that her voice is not reproduced with
that faithful adherence to the original which is required.
That, we believe, to be a defect which can be easily
explained. The clear, liquid limpidity of Melba's notes
does not create such a disturbance of sound waves as
those of a more dramatic and impassioned singer. The
consequence is that the vibrations are more evenly
marked upon the wax, which gives the impression to
the listener of a lack of force and character. Melba,
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS 89
perhaps, possesses the purest soprano of any woman who
ever sang. It is absolutely faultless in its clarity, but
by reason of her nature she is of Scottish descent,
though born near Melbourne, in Australia it has not
the excessive warmth and brilliancy of colour which-
belong to the voices of the daughters of the passionate
lands bordering on the Mediterranean. Detached
from the glamour which inevitably surrounds the
stage Melba's notes sound a trifle cold, and hence to the
ordinary person who listens to her records comes that
slight feeling of disappointment.
There is not a musician or singer who has attained any
celebrity whose voice or playing is not more familiar
to the gramophone enthusiast of to-day than it is to
the wealthiest music-lover in the world who is without
a talking machine. The gramophone user can always
have his records beside him to listen to when he is in the
mood. We have only mentioned the names of a few
of the great singers whose voices have been recorded,
but we can safely say that there is not one living vocal
artist of note whose musical tones have not been
enshrined within a disc.
The Columbia Company have their own treasures in
music. Dame Clara Butt is one of them, now recording
only for Columbia. Stracciari, the great baritone,
Barrientos, Stralia, Ponselle, the famous sopranos, are
others. Among instrumentalists there are such honoured
names as Pachmann and Busoni, pianists of the highest
order, Ysaye, the veteran violinist, and Casals, indu-
bitably the world's greatest 'cellist. Further, music
lovers are indebted to Columbia for introducing chamber
music, through the medium of the London String
Quartet, on the gramophone.
But one of the greatest Columbia achievements is in
connection with orchestral works. They persuaded
90 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Sir Henry J. Wood to recant his previous objections to
recording, and with his aid began to develop the inter-
pretative side. Then followed Sir Thomas Beecham,
Mr. Albert Coates with the London Symphony Orchestra,
.and Mr. Hamilton Harty with the Halle Orchestra.
These famous conductors have given us through
Columbia new orchestral classics, including such works
as " Scheherazade," " Le Chasseur Maudit " (The
Accursed Hunter), Scriabin's " Poem of Ecstasy,"
" Siegfried Idyll," thus creating a new and higher
standard in orchestral music alone. This, in itself, has
gone far to secure recognition for the gramophone
among scoffers and sceptics.
If we were to give a list of all the " stars of
the record world," however, which scintillate for the
various manufacturers, we would require more pages of
our handbook than time and space can afford. It would
be well, nevertheless, to draw attention to the fact that
records have been made by others than musicians. We
have spoken elsewhere of Mr. Gladstone having made a
record. He was the first of statesmen to submit his
voice to the tender mercies of the recording needle, but
in the long ago such performances were not too successful.
Of late years, however, with all the new inventions, both
in recording and in reproduction, the speech of a minister
can be listened to with quite as much attention as if it
were delivered in a hall. Mr. Asquith, Earl Balfour
and Mr. Lloyd George have each made records, and we
rather think Mr. Winston Churchill may be added to the
list. Elocutionary efforts by popular actors have also
been a feature of the gramophone. The talking record,
as it is called, is by no means a rarity. The late Sir
H. Beerbohm Tree made a few, and we remember an
exceptionally funny one by that clever entertainer, now
dead, Snazelle. Bransby Williams has recorded most of
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS 91
his recitations and sketches, and there are many
Of actresses, as we think we have elsewhere men-
tioned, Sara Bernhardt has had her beautiful tones
immortalized in shellac, but the ladies of the dramatic
stage generally do not seem to take so kindly to the
recording horn as their sisters of the lyric or operatic.
The best that we have heard is a powerful recitation by
Constance Collier, " The Hell-gate of Soissons " ; but
what a glorious treat it would be if somebody could
persuade Miss Ellen Terry, while she is still in possession
of all the beauty of her remarkable speaking voice, to
make a record of her wonderful delivery of Portia's
speech in the " Merchant of Venice." Posterity would
thank her for it.
The big manufacturing companies have given us the
music of complete operas, so that a whole party can sit
down in a drawing-room and listen to "II Trovatore "
or " Faust " or "Lohengrin " from beginning to end
with as much pleasure as if they were seated in a stall
at the opera. The Pathe Company has even done better
than that, for it has recorded Moliere's comedy of the
" Malade Imaginaire " almost without a cut, and there
is no reason why we should not have a Shakesperian play
presented to us in the same way. At the present time
the Gramophone Company are bringing out the whole
series of Gilbert and Sullivan operas one by one, with
fine casts. "The Mikado," "The Gondoliers," and
" The Pirates of Penzance " have already been issued,
and the others will follow in due course. The Columbia
Company have sent their recording staff to Milan on
separate occasions to secure complete performances of
" Carmen," " Rigoletto " and " Aiida," as performed
by the company of the famous La Scala Theatre.
Such enterprises as these cost huge sums, but no amount
92 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
is begrudged when an exact reproduction is to be
obtained. Similarly, successful London musical plays
are recorded by the original theatre artists for home
enjoyment, and these have a great vogue.
Experiments have been made in getting the notes of
singing birds, but these have not been altogether success-
ful, because you cannot get a bird to sing to order. You
may catch a portion of his song fitfully, but you cannot
be sure of him. Some years ago there was a fuss made of
a certain American, Professor Garner, who was to go
out to Central Africa with recording apparatus, live in
a cage in the tropical forest and record the language
of apes. Whether the expedition was successful
or not we cannot say. But, if the monkey tongue,
supposing it should exist, has not been recorded,
almost every spoken language on the face of the earth
has. The recording expert travels far, and, though his
baggage is not quite so light as that of the photographer,
he has succeeded in making valuable additions to
philological and ethnological science. In this direction
there is a vast field still open for scientific inquiry, and
if some of the learned societies could find the money to
prosecute research in remote lands and among little
known peoples, the results would be most interesting.
By language we might be able to trace the origins of
The Japanese do quite an extensive trade with China
by making Chinese records, and we believe Mr. Russell
Hunting contrived to secure many excellent discs of the
queer agglutinate tongue of the inhabitants of the
Flowery Land during a brief sojourn there. The
enterprising Japs are piercing into India, too, where they
are making records of the various dialects, thereby
casting a reflection upon our British industrial methods.
There is wealth among the Hindus as well as poverty,
ARTISTS WHO MAKE RECORDS 93
and doubtless a considerable trade might be tapped by
selling machines with native records.
There is not a musical instrument which has not been
brought under subjection by the recorder. Of late the
Hawaiian ukalele, a species of guitar, said to have been
introduced to the islands of the Pacific by the early
Spanish missionaries, and adapted by the natives to
their own requirements in the way of music, has become
quite a cult among gramophone users. It emits a
peculiar plaintive sound by sliding the finger up and down
the strings while the right hand twangs an accompani-
ment. Many of the best native performers have been
in this country and made records, and the voices are
strangely sweet. Several were engaged in a successful
piece at the Prince of Wales's Theatre entitled " The
Bird of Paradise," where their songs and playing attracted
Since the war dancing has become, one might say,
our most popular pastime, and the talking machine
provides a ready means for supplying the music. On
this account there has been a huge output of dance
records, the abominable jazz taking the lead for a long
time. Thank goodness this nuisance is being somewhat
abated. There were records made from bands and
orchestras which played nothing but this hideous
importation from America, and all of them were faith-
fully reproduced on discs. The poor reviewers of the
trade organs were absolutely deafened by them.
Before closing this chapter on record makers, it may not
be out of place to mention a record which was made by
an army and all its guns. The late Mr. Gaisberg of the
Gramophone Company was permitted by the military
authorities to approach within the lines during the bom-
bardment of Lille for the purpose of recording the din
of war. The result, however, was rather disappointing.
GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES
FROM the earliest days of talking machine manufacture
and distribution in this country the friendly rivalry
(a notable feature of most new industries) existing
between the various houses engaged in the trade was
not conducive to the formation of a Trade Association.
At social and other gatherings of the industry it was
talked of, but there appeared to be no urgent necessity
for it in those days, so no definite action was taken. The
common trials and tribulations of the war period, how-
ever, brought the talking machine manufacturers and
traders more closely together and emphasized the need
for concerted action.
The difficulties of the trade in the years of war were
immense. For a considerable period the gramophone
was regarded by a certain section of the Government as
a luxury, and it required the most strenuous exertions
on the part of some of the leaders in the business to
prevent the industry being relegated into the sorely
tried position of a " luxury trade." For a time all
effort seemed hopeless and the trade appeared to be
doomed. Just then, however, when things were
darkest, energetic action was taken by the British Music
Trades Industry Committee, an emergency war-time
organization, in the formation and conduct of which
prominent members of the talking machine industry
took part, notably Mr. M. E. Ricketts (then of the
Gramophone Co., Ltd.), who acted as Honorary Secre-
tary throughout its existence and did yeoman service.
As a result of this collective representation the trade was
GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES 95
undoubtedly saved and adequate supplies of materials
When one looks back upon the active part that the
gramophone played in bringing comfort and joy to the
boys who were at the front, it is almost inconceivable
that the Government should have adopted the attitude
it did. However, that is all past and gone, but we must
rot forget the men who upheld the rights of the trade
that supplied the music which encouraged our devoted
It was apparent from the outset of the struggle to
obtain recognition of the talking machine as a powerful,
and indeed vital, force for the good of the nation and its
preservers that the music trade was inefficiently
organized, and the long talked of Association of Gramo-
phone Manufacturers and Dealers took shape in the
minds of the leaders of the industry. In the negotia-
tions between the British Music Trades Industry Com-
mittee and the Government on the question of supplies
of material it was found that the musical instrument
(small goods) makers had many interests in common
with those of the talking machine trade. Consequently
in the early months of the year 1918 Mr. M. E.
Ricketts, Mr. Frank Samuel (Barnett, Samuel & Sons,
Ltd.) and Mr. Walter B. Beare (Beare & Son) all young,
vigorous men in the trade, called together a historic
meeting at the Midland Grand Hotel, St. Pancras
(then the headquarters of music trade activities).
Representatives of leading houses in the talking machine
and musical instrument (small goods) trades were
invited and all attended. The proposed association met
with spontaneous and unanimous approval, and the
difficulty of securing a suitable and energetic organizer
was overcome when Mr. Chas. E. Timms, also a young
and active man with a life-long experience of the
96 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
musical instrument trade, undertook the duties of
In addition to those already named as promoters of
the preliminary arrangements for the formation of the
Association, there were several other gentlemen well
known in the trade. Of these we may mention Mr.
H. J. Cullum (Messrs. Lockwoods & Perophone, Ltd.) ;
Mr. M. F. Cooksey (J. Thibouville-Lamy & Co.) ;
Mr. J. E. Hough (J. E. Hough, Ltd.) ; Mr. W. Manson
(The Gramophone Co., Ltd.) ; Mr. Geo. Murdoch (The
Murdoch Trading Co.) ; Mr. A. J. Stavridi (Craies &
Stavridi) ; Mr. Louis Sterling and Mr. J. Van Allen
Shields (Columbia Graphophone Co., Ltd.) ; Mr. Robert
Willis (British Polyphon Co.), and Mr. E. C. Paskell
(Colmore Depot, Birmingham).
A draft constitution and rules were quickly evolved
and approved ; an anticipated first season's membership
of about fifty houses was, by energetic application,
amplified into an actual original associate roll of 118
houses, and on Tuesday, 25th June, 1918, The
Association of Gramophone and Musical Instrument
Manufacturers and Wholesale Dealers became an
accomplished fact. The somewhat unwieldy nomen-
clature came in for careful consideration and criticism,
but it was finally decided that the wide interests of the
society could not be covered under a more curtailed
title. Of the founders of the Association, Mr. M. E.
Ricketts was at the first general meeting unanimously
elected as President, with Mr. Frank Samuel, Vice-
President ; Mr. W. B. Beare, Hon. Treasurer, and Mr.
C. E. Timms, Secretary. The Council of the Association
is comprehensive and embraces every branch of the
industry. At date (1921) it comprises
Mr. W. B. Beare (Beare & Son).
Mr. D. J. Blaikley (Boosey & Co.).
GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES 97
Mr. M. F. Cooksey (J. Thibouville-Lamy & Co.).
Mr. H. J. Cullum, M.B.E. (Perophone, Ltd.).
Mr. Herbert W. Dawkins (Thos. Dawkins & Co.,
Mr. Geoffrey Hawkes (Hawkes & Son).
Mr. J. E. Hough (J. E. Hough, Ltd.).
Mr. A. G. Houghton (Houghton & Sons, Birming-
Mr. W. Manson (The Gramophone Co., Ltd.)
Mr. A. J. Mason (Aeolian Co., Ltd.).
Mr. Geo. Murdoch (Murdoch Trading Co.).
Mr. E. C. Paskell (Colmore Depot, Birmingham).
Mr. Frank Samuel (Barnett, Samuel & Sons, Ltd.).
Mr. Louis Sterling (Columbia Graphophone Co.,
The Constitution of the Association provides that
there shall be elected annually a President and a Vice-
President (each alternately from the Gramophone and
Musical Instrument Industries), a Treasurer and a
Council which shall consist of the officers and eleven
members of the Association, six representing the
Gramophone Trade and five the Musical Instrument
Trade. Provision is also made for the formation of
sub-committees representing : (1) The manufacturers of
gramophones and/or their accessories. (2) The manu-
facturers of gramophone records. (3) Gramophone
wholesale dealers. (4) The manufacturers of musical
instruments and/or their accessories. (5) Musical
instrument wholesale dealers. To these would be
added by consent of the Council other sub -committees
should occasion arise.
Membership is open to any bona fide British company,
firm or person engaged in the trades concerned and
carrying on business within Great Britain and Ireland,
subject to election by the Council.
y THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
The objects of the Association are : " To promote,
protect and secure the varied interests of manufacturers
of, and wholesale dealers in, Gramophones, Musical
Instruments and their Accessories, and to use every
endeavour to obtain fair conditions and whole-hearted
support for British Manufacturers and Wholesale
Dealers." That these aims have been adequately
fulfilled during the first three years of the Association's
existence is shown by a resume of the more important
questions dealt with by the Council in that period on
behalf of the members. Taking a cursory glance through
these we find prominently
Safeguarding of supplies of materials in the post war
Propaganda calling the attention of the whole of
the Music Trade of this country to the menace of the
proposed Luxury Tax and action to avert same.
Employment of Disabled Soldiers and Sailors in
Railway Rates and Conditions.
Merchandise Marks Act.
Excess Profits Duty.
Organization of, and support for, the Federation
of British Music Industries.
Music Trades Joint Industrial Council.
British Music Industries' Scientific Research
Fraudulent Advertising of Gramophones, etc.
Monthly Publication of Imports and Exports
Customs Drawback on Re-exportation.
Imports from Germany.
Trade Conditions in Germany.
Music Trades School.
GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES 99
British Industries Fair.
British Music Convention.
Net Sales Certificates Trade Press.
The work of the Association is recorded in the trade
Press and also in an " Association Newsletter " which is
circulated to all members periodically.
It is agreeable to state that the success of the Associa-
tion is attributable to the indefatigable zeal and atten-
tion of the clever Secretary, Mr. Chas. E. Timms, and it
is certain that no Association or body of men banded
together with a common object can be really successful
unless there is one man with the driving power and the
will and energy to devote to it.
No sooner had the manufacturers and wholesale
traders set their Association going on a solid basis than
the retail dealers began to think about organizing. For
some time there had been formed in the provinces
various District Associations, but there was no central
combinations and these scattered organizations had no
coherency. Before the new plant took root much
spade work was accomplished by Mr. S. N. Shand, of
Stratford, London, who spared no labour on the scheme
he had taken in hand. In an unobtrusive fashion he
was well backed up by Mr. Robert Poulter, the manager
of The Talking Machine News, the oldest and best
gramophone trade organ in the world, who had also
lent an untiring hand in the formation of the Gramo-
phone and Musical Instrument and Wholesale Dealers
Association. Eventually the new idea took shape and
a first meeting was called for 22nd September, 1920.
The attendance was most encouraging. Officers were
then and there elected, Mr. Rasin Jones, of Manchester,
being appointed President for the first year, with Mr.
E. Marshall as Vice-President. The members of
Committee were Messrs. Gerald Forty, S. E. Moon,
100 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
C. J. Price, J. H. Riley and F. E. Stokes, while Mr.
S. N. Shand was unanimously elected Hon. Secretary.
The first business, after the election of office-bearers,
was to deal with the establishment of branches through-
out the kingdom and the affiliation of existing organiza-
tions The members present were most enthusiastic,
and resolved upon adopting a personal campaign in
their several districts for the purpose of augmenting
membership. The nominal subscription was fixed at
21s., to be sent to Mr. S. N. Shand, 150 The Grove,
Stratford, London, E.15.
The Association being so young we have not sufficient
data to go upon to record its progress, but we understand
that it is already in a very flourishing condition, and
that many matters of great importance to the retail
trade are being investigated and will ultimately be
The Federation of British Music Industries does not
exactly come within our province to dilate upon, but it
is well to observe that the gramophone industry is
strongly represented therein, and that at all the con-
ventions and meetings the talking machine interests are
carefully looked after. With such a Chairman as Mr.
Alexander Dow, whose knowledge and experience of
every branch of the musical profession and trade is
unequalled, the Federation has a man at its head of
unique personality, embodying both culture and charm. 1
The work of the Federation is educational and propa-
gandist, and every British musician of note has identified
himself with its objects. It wields a powerful influence
over musical art in many directions, and this influence
is beginning to make itself manifest in the keener
1 Since this was written Mr. Louis Sterling, of the Columbia
Gramophone Company, has succeeded Mr. Dow for a year. A
big feather in the cap of the Talking Machine Industry.
GRAMOPHONE ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES 101
interest which is being taken in music by the nation at
Some years ago it was felt by talking machine enthusi-
asts that the instrument was not sufficiently known and
understood. Societies were, therefore, inaugurated with
the intention of inducing the public to form a deeper
estimation of the invention. At- that time, it must be
recollected, prejudice against what was derisively called
" canned " music ran exceedingly high, and it was not
altogether without reason, for some of the cheaper
records and machines were atrociously bad (a few of
them are so still, as anyone can find out for himself if he
will take the trouble to walk through a poorer class
neighbourhood of an evening). But these were not the
instruments nor records which the societies were experi-
menting with. They were going in for better things and
were wishful to demonstrate the finest that had been
We are under the impression that the North London
Gramophone and Phonograph Society was the first to
be established, with that ardent and learned experi-
menter, Henry Seymour, as President. We may be
wrong, but our researches have not given us an earlier
one. The long-continued feud between cylinder and
disc adherents is nowhere so rancorous as among the
members of the societies. Edison is worshipped
as a super-man by certain communities, while the follow-
ers of the needle-cut disc will have none of him. Of one
thing, however, there can be little doubt, the gramophone
people triumph over their opponents most mightily in
the matter of artists. A gramophone society can put
up a concert with all the picked voices of the world
upon the programme, whereas the phonograph admirers
have to be content with only those American performers
who are not in the front rank of opera or platform. The
102 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
phonograph supporters also labour under another
disability. The whole of their records, cylinder or disc,
have to come across from America, for they scorn
every other make save that of the Great Panjandrum
Throughout the length and breadth of the land these
societies are springing up, not only in the big towns,
but in what our theatrical friends call " the smalls,"
and even in villages. The meetings are generally held
once a month, when all the most recent issues from the
record manufacturers are listened to and their merits
discussed. New sound boxes, needles and other
accessories are also tried over and pronounced upon.
In short, the societies are composed of enthusiasts who
allow nothing that is fresh to escape them. Many of
the members are themselves inventors, who, by their
connection with the societies, get their inventions tested.
Whether this is an advantage or not is somewhat
doubtful, for the doings are reported in the trade
Press, and the publicity thus obtained may not always
be for the benefit of the inventor. However, there can
be no denying that the societies are doing a vast amount
of good to the industry by their propaganda work, and
we should be the very last to cavil at the spirit with
which the members are imbued.
THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER
No less important authority than Sir Edward Elgar,
O.M., has predicted for the gramophone a great future
as an instructor of youth in music. We have already
seen how it is thus employed in America, but we lag
slowly behind. The ingrained conservatism of the
Briton restrains him from advance. He hesitates and
boggles at an innovation, whereas the more acute
American grasps the situation and with far-seeing
intelligence adapts it to his needs. The old and deeply
rooted prejudice against the talking machine still
obtains in the official mind, and however strong may be
the efforts of the more liberal spirits, the educational
authorities in many directions block the way.
In spite of the opposition, however, there is a move-
ment going on which may ultimately triumph over all
obstacles and place our country on the same level that
our friends across the Atlantic have gained. Canada has
awakened to a sense of the educational advantages
which can be reaped by a practical use of the talking
machine as teacher, and is introducing it into many
schools of the Dominion. The governing bodies there,
being in closer proximity to the United States, have
viewed with observant eyes' the benefits derived from the
employment of the gramophone as a training factor
among the children, with the result that, unless we
actively bestir ourselves, the motherland will find herself
outstripped in musical knowledge by her own offspring.
This is lamentable, but it is perfectly true, and we have
nothing to blame but the obduracy of our officialdom.
104 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
Sir Edward Elgar has urged upon those having charge
of the young, and Mr. Percy A. Scholes has written in
a booklet published by the Gramophone Company,
addressed to teachers, the duty of instruction in that
very important point, Learning to Listen. It is the
title of Mr. Scholes's brochure, and in the introduction,
Dr. John Adams, Professor of Education at the Univer-
sity of London, dwells upon the importance of music
in any scheme of education. Appreciation is the first
principle in the knowledge of music, and the talking
machine is the only instrument through which apprecia-
tion can be instilled into the mind, for it is the only
instrument that can play all music. In his preface Mr.
Scholes quotes Dr. Eliot, of Harvard, to the effect that
the true understanding of music is " one of the best
means of developing the human child, of drawing out
its latent powers, and cultivating the human spirit."
Hitherto, according to Mr. Scholes, musical education has
been limited to making the child acquainted with only
such music as it can perform itself or as on rare occasions
can be performed for it. The talking machine has
changed all that.
The other day Sir Edward Elgar said that he looked
forward to the time when no school would be deemed
complete without its proper number of gramophones.
Surely Sir Edward's dictum should have some weight
with county councils, for, besides being our greatest
living British composer, he has given much time and
thought to the subject of education.
Among other things of much interest in the little
book by Mr. Scholes are several programmes of music
which can all be played to a class on a gramophone.
There are parts of the country, too, where no concerts
in the ordinary sense can be heard either by children
or adults, and for such districts the various lists of the
THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER 105
works of great composers which he gives are useful in
showing how appreciation can gradually be acquired
by the use of a good machine and high-class records.
It is this learning to appreciate the best of music, not
mere technical ability to play a piano, a violin or any
other manipulatory instrument, that cultivates the mind,
and Sir Edward Elgar is quite in agreement with this.
Of course, there must be work as well if the child is to
become an instrumentalist, but such work will be much
more easy if the basis has been laid by the talking
machine. In a letter to Lord North cliffe, Paderewski,
the renowned pianist, wrote : " Education by good
music is essential to the mind development of children
in every country, and I should like to see a gramophone
and a good selection of ' His Master's Voice ' records
in every school."
And now, having mentioned " His Master's Voice " in
this connection, we must congratulate the Gramophone
Company upon the very active steps the great firm is
taking in promoting this form of musical education . The
propaganda initiated by them, growing stronger every
day, is bound to have a marked influence upon the
community at large. By literature of an easily grasped
character, by lectures, not too technical, and by the issue
of a graduated series of records the company is fighting
their way through all opposition. They have constructed
a strong-built machine for use in schools, which is sold
at the not too exorbitant price of 25, and they assist
in every way the teachers who have to demonstrate to
the little learners the truths and beauties of the art
which is being unfolded to them.
Beyond the point of imparting a taste for good
music it is impossible for the gramophone to go. It
simply takes the place of the singer, the instrumentalist
and the orchestra, but we must remember how few
106 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
children are in a position to hear the best of these
except through the talking machine. It is amazingly
democratic. At a comparatively small cost the off-
spring of the poor can obtain as much pleasure in music
By the courtesy of the Gramophone Co., Ltd.
"HIS MASTER'S VOICE" GRAMOPHONE FOR SCHOOLS
as the heirs and heiresses of the rich, but that pleasure
can only come through a course of instruction, unless
the child be abnormally gifted. In the old days opera
was a sealed book to most of the people, because of the
prices charged, and in consequence the masses never
acquired a taste for it. A few of the old airs from
" Maritana " or the " Bohemian Girl " was all that
THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER 107
reached them through solo singers on the platform or by
the medium of sheet music, from which it was painfully
strummed by amateurs on cheap pianos. Those days
have gone. The gramophone brings real music into the
home, though we must confess that we have no sympathy
with a good deal of it. Much stuff is placed upon records
which cannot be classed as music in the strict sense,
and many machines are sold to the unwary which do
not deserve the name of gramophone. These remarks,
however, do not apply to " His Master's Voice." All
goods which bear the famous trade-mark may be
indisputably relied upon for quality and value.
There was perhaps as much indignation felt by some
of the " heads " at Eton when Mr. Basil Johnson, the
principal music master, proposed the introduction of
a gramophone as animated Jennie Geddes, the old
Scotswoman, when she heard the organ in the kirk and
threw her stool at the minister's head. But Mr.
Johnson had his way and a talking machine was installed,
thereby setting an example to all the other public
schools of Great Britain. We understand that Winches-
ter, Repton and Oundle have already followed in the
footsteps of Eton, and it is not improbable that, before
this little book is published, all the great schools of
England, Scotland and Wales will be provided with
In Wales, as was to be expected from such a musical
nation, the movement is making headway with gigantic
strides. This is chiefly owing to the efforts of Dr.
Walford Davies, than whom the gramophone has no
more strenuous advocate. Few men are more honoured
in the Principality, or out of it, than the organist of the
Temple Church, who is now Professor of Music in the
University of Wales and Director of Music in Welsh
Schools. His views are that each of the 1,800 Welsh
108 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
elementary schools should have its gramophone, and
he is also organizing the formation of record libraries.
Dr. Davies is an authority who commands respect,
and his advice prompts instant consideration. In Wales
the seeds of his utterances fall upon fruitful ground,
for, like all Celts, the Cymric are essentially an intensely
musical people and respond with enthusiasm to any
suggestion of education in music. Of the four races
which are comprised in the British Isles none is so
advanced musically as the Welsh, and it is only natural
that the propaganda of Dr. Davies should meet with a
favourable reception. Thus, when the Professor was
entertained to luncheon by the Rotary Club of Swansea,
he gave a short lecture-recital on the gramophone
to the members. There were present fifty-five business
men keenly interested in every word which fell from the
Doctor's lips. As he concluded his lecture Dr. Davies
asked those who recognized the educational value of the
gramophone to write to him for lists of suitable records
for home study. To his surprise and satisfaction the
applicants numbered sixty-two, showing that the
Professor's appeal in the good cause had spread beyond
the confines of the Rotary Club.
The Gramophone Company are efficiently backing up
Dr. Davies's efforts by providing school machines and
special records, so that Wales, as heretofore, will con-
tinue to maintain a priority in music unless strong
endeavours are made in other directions.
Many persons are constantly referring to what they
call the " good old days." We know very well that in
almost every respect they were extremely bad old
days, but we cannot gainsay the fact that, say in
the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth, the common
people, appallingly ignorant though they might have
been, were more light-hearted and joyous than we are
THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER 109
to-day. Their folk-songs, their glees and madrigals
point to it, and these bring us at a single step to the
All English musicians know the interest Mr. Cecil
Sharp takes in these matters. He has travelled the coun-
try round picking up odd snatches of ancient ditties
in out of the way nooks and corners of the land ; he
has made friends with strange, eccentric village charac-
ters to get hold of a few bars of some old tune which
they alone knew, and he has witnessed queer jigs and
reels in places where the same dances were in vogue
500 years ago. It is the darling wish of his heart to
see those old dances re-introduced through the school-
children of our time. And why not ? They were a
thousand-fold more innocent than the tangos and
fox-trots and bunny-hugs which have been brought here
from the dancing saloons of the New York Bowery.
The music to which our forefathers and foremothers
footed it so bravely was infinitely preferable to the
discordant abominations of jazz. The old " contra "
dances, perverted into " country," of which the " Hay-
makers," the original of Sir Roger de Coverley, is a fine
ensample, gave health and joy to the lads and lasses
a joy that is not experienced in the stifling ball-rooms
of the town. Why, then, should not Mr. Sharp's
wish be fulfilled ? Many of the old tunes, arranged
by him, have been recorded and published, and
with efficient teachers we could have our children
instructed in them to the benefit of their health and
We have spoken elsewhere of the teaching of
languages by means of the gramophone, and we under-
stand that this system is going ahead with considerable
force. Messrs. Pathe Freres issue many discs made
from the speaking voices of the best enunciators in
110 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
French, Spanish and other European tongues. By this-
method a correct accent can be imparted to the pupils
without the intervention of a master or mistress. The
lessons, we believe, are graduated from the simplest
sentences until they reach the conversational stage.
Other companies, too, produce records of the same
character, and Messrs. Funk and Wagnall, the educa-
tional publishers, have an American machine and
records adapted to this system of instruction.
The amplification of sound for the purpose of filling
large halls or for outdoor uses has engaged the attention
of many inventors. There is the Naturafone, an excellent
machine, the invention of our good friend Mr. Crowe,
a son of the late Gwyllym Crowe, the waltz composer and
conductor, several years ago, of the promenade concerts
at Co vent Garden. This instrument depends upon
the construction of the sound box for its increase of
volume. Then there is the Stentorphone, a huge
machine, in which compressed air is forced through the
tone-arm. Both these, however, are completely cast
in the shade by the Magnavox or Telemegaphone, an
electric contrivance from America which has just found
its way to this country. This can be used either with a
gramophone, or simply by a public speaker talking into
a mouthpiece like that of a telephone. The sound can
be regulated by the turning of a switch, and so great is
its power that the human voice in certain conditions of
the atmosphere has been heard at a distance of seven
miles. It was much in evidence during the last
presidential election in the States, and it ought to
be useful for candidates at the next general election
in the United Kingdom. The agents here are the
Johnson Talking Machine Company, of Tottenham
As we began by saying that the Talking Machine is
THE TALKING MACHINE AS TEACHER 111
only in its infancy, so we conclude. There are vast
possibilities for it as yet undiscovered, and when all
avenues have been explored it may happen that the
instrument will be found useful to man in ways as yet
AFTER due consideration, we have come to the con-
clusion that the industry is at last bestirring itself.
It has had rather a protracted period of somnolence
from which it has only now begun to awaken. Since
the body of this little work was written, changes have
taken place in many respects which show that the
infant is progressing more rapidly than in the past.
Further discoveries in the properties of sound have
been exercising with striking results the brains of
scientists. Revolutionary inventions have been making
their appearance, which in all probability will neces-
sitate great alterations in the construction and look of
the talking machine.
Foremost among the latter will be found to-day the
novel contrivances of Mr. Pemberton Billing. This
singularly ingenious gentleman has been experimenting
for a long time upon improvements in the gramophone
and has taken out several patents. For the exploita-
tion of these, a company has been formed under the
designation of the " World Record, Limited," with an
extensive and well-equipped factory at Chiswick.
The new record comprises many startling changes in
the character of the disc, although the general appear-
ance remains the same. By a controlling device which
may be attached to any machine, the record plays
several songs, instrumental solos, or orchestral selec-
tions, as the case may be, on one side. This economizes
space, and naturally the reproduction lasts much longer
in performance than with ordinary records. The first
issue of these compendious discs was only placed upon the
market in October last (1922), so that there has not
yet been sufficient time to judge of their reception by
the public ; however, the sales already have proved
abnormally large, and there is every sign that the new
record has justified its existence.
Ingenious as Mr. Pemberton Billing has shown him-
self to be in his invention of the multiple record, he
has by no means exhausted all his powers upon it.
The " Trinity" gramophone is another novelty of his
which the " World Record, Ltd.," has sprung upon us.
As its name implies, it is actually three in one. In the
first place, you see before you a solid-looking, well-
polished concert-grand, with closed sound-doors. When
a record is put on the turntable and the sound-doors
opened, you listen as you would to any other gramo-
phone ; but this is not all. After some slight manipula-
tion of the winding-handle and tone-arm, a full-bodied
table-grand is withdrawn and, if wanted, can be car-
ried into another room or out into the garden. There
is still, however, the third and last transformation to-
take place. This is accomplished by taking a useful
drawer away from the original concert-grand and
fitting it on the top of the table-grand by means of
certain clips for the purpose. It now becomes the
" Picnic Portable," with a strong leather handle for
carrying it about. The " Trinity " is certainly a
marvel of ingenuity, and extraordinarily cheap at
A third novelty marketed by the " World Record,
Ltd.," is the " Vistavox." The great feature about
this is the peculiarity of the sound-box and tone-arm,,
which can hardly be explained without an illustration.
It has, however, special tonal qualities to recommend
it, and thus, we believe, a future is ensured for it.
The C. H. Roberts Manufacturing Co., Ltd., of
Camden Road, London, is a flourishing concern which
has recently placed several valuable machines upon the
market under the style and title of " Bestone." Their
first venture was the " Bestone" Portable, which was
114 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
the invention of Mr. C. H. Roberts, a gentleman who
for years has been a keen gramophone enthusiast and
inventor of many original devices. The " Bestone "
Portable is a gramophone, the interior framework of
which is made of aluminium, a metal which not only
has excellent acoustic advantages, but is also imper-
vious to climatic changes. Thus the model is as
admirably adapted to the tropics as it is to frigid
The Roberts Company have also just brought out the
" Bestone " Corner Cabinet, a gramophone which fits
into a corner, and is incomparable in tone and quality.
It is a beautiful specimen of the cabinet-maker's art,
and may be had in oak, mahogany, or lacquer at prices
ranging from thirty-five to sixty-five guineas. The
company have at the same time issued a sound-box of
superior make and finish at a guinea each.
A great novelty from the same firm is the Boys'
Gramophone Outfit, which enables a boy to build up
his own table cabinet and, after playing, pull it to
pieces again, no glue or tacks being required in the
process. For ingenious youngsters this is a most
When a big corporation like the Chappell Piano Co.,
Ltd., which is known and esteemed throughout the
whole world, become sole sales concessionaires for a
new invention, it is a sure guarantee of its excellence.
This is what has happened in the case of the Clifto-
phone. The inventor of this very fine machine is a
gentleman named Clifton, of great scientific attain-
ments, who has devoted many years to the study of
sound reproduction. After much labour, he has evolved
a gramophone which may be looked upon as the very
last word in talking machines. As might be expected
from the work which has been bestowed upon.it, the
Cliftophone exhibits certain valuable improvements.
These have been achieved by means of alterations in
the accessories rather than through changes in the
actual machine. The sound-box is of a novel con-
struction, being fitted with a compensating lever as the
connection between the diaphragm and the stylus-bar,
thus dispensing with that tendency to work loose and
give a disagreeable rattle, which is the fault of some of
the ordinary sound-boxes. In the Cliftophone sound-
box there is absolutely no possibility of this loosening.
Again, the " Twin Reed" composite diaphragm is an
innovation which emerges triumphantly from all tests.
It has been the result of countless experiments and, as
a consequence, has reached the highest pinnacle of
perfection in regard to the properties of diaphragms.
Another remarkable feature of the Cliftophone is the
tone-arm, with its continuation, the reproducing
chamber. In this it has been the object of the inventor
to make the reproduction truly realistic, and to that
end he has introduced a special " articulation " or hinge
for the tone-arm, which entirely prevents any " shake "
or loss of motion, yet compels it to offer absolutely
rigid resistance to the " drag" of the needle. Thus
the whole of the music may be heard without the
slightest loss. The tone chambers, too, have been so
designed as to secure the melodious and rhythmical
development of the music emitted by the sound-box
until it reaches the ear of the listener.
From unsolicited testimonials it would appear that
the Cliftophone has succeeded in overcoming the pre-
judices of hardened gramophone haters and in drawing
forth the admiration of the most scientific sound
As was said of old concerning books, so might it be
repeated now with regard to sound-boxes : "Of the
making of boxes there is no end." Why there should
be this plethora of resonators is beyond our explana-
tion, but to us it would seem as if every amateur
artificer who had conceived some spite against the
gramophone had forthwith started out to vent his
spleen upon the instrument. The result of such
116 THE TALKING MACHINE INDUSTRY
inexpert efforts is the production of an accessory calcu-
lated to give the most acute tortures to the listener.
A bad sound-box is worse than gout or toothache.
It jars upon the auditory nerves and produces agony.
That the Talking Machine Industry is making much
more rapid strides in advancement than has been
observable for several years is a fact which not even
the most prejudiced of its detractors can deny. It has
overcome all unreasonable prepossessions and anti-
quated conservative bias by the soundness of its pro-
positions and the strictly scientific principles upon
which they have been carried out.
play continuously without attention
from 3 to 5 times as long as any
other Gramophone Record throughout
On sale at all Musical Instrument Dealers
and gramophone stockists, or obtainable,
together with descriptive literature, from
World Record, Ltd.
Cromwell Works, Mortlake
West End Showrooms : 2 Piccadilly Arcade, London, W.I
Telephone : Gerrard 2251
AEOLIAN Co., Ltd., 79, 80, 81,
- vocalion, 79
America, education in, 1
Amplification of sound, 110
Association of Gramophone
Manufacturers and Whole-
sale Dealers, 95
Asquith, Right Hon. H. H., 90
Automaton, marvellous, 9
BACON, Roger, 5
Balfour, Earl, 90
Band and orchestral records,
Beecham, Sir Thomas, 90
Beka Co., 42
Bell, Alexander Graham, 15, 22
Bergerac, Cyrano de, 7
Berliner, Emil, 32
Bernhardt, Sara, 91
Brewster, Sir David, 8
British Association, 14
Butt, Dame Clara, 90
Casals, Pablo, 90
Celebrated case, a, 24
Chinese records, 92
Churchill, Winston, 90
Clarion Co., 32
Coates, Albert, 90
Collier, Constance, 91
Columbia Co., 23, 41, 75, 76,
Cros, Charles, 15
Curious box, 5
Cyrano de Bergerac, 7
DACAPO Co., 42
Davies, Ben, 84
, Dr. Walford, 107
Disc machine, 32
Double-sided discs, 38
Due de Leon, 12
Duck, famous, 6
EDISON, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21
- factory in England, 31
, United, 24
in America, 1
- in Canada, 103
El gar, Sir Edward, 103
Emil Berliner, 32
Eton, the gramophone at, 107
Expiration of patents, 38
Famous duck, 6
Favourite Co., 42
Federation of British Music
Fibre needles, 56
First talking machine in Eng-
Flute-player, mechanical, 6
Folk songs, etc., 109
GAISBERG, the late Mr., 93
Galli-Curci, Mme., 19
Garner, Professor, 92
Gladstone, W. E., 28
Gooseneck, the, 51
Graduola, the, 80, 81
Gramophone Co., Ltd., 38, 41,
72, 85, 105
Dealers' Association, 99
, name of, 35
Graphophone, the, 23
- and Phonograph Socie-
HART, Sir Robert, 4
Harty, Hamilton, 90
Hawaiian ukalele and records,
Hedgehog spines, 60
Hedgerow thorns, 59
Heifetz, Jascha, 65
Horn and hornless machines,
Hough, J. E., Ltd., 82
INFRINGEMENT of patent
Gramophone Co. v. Ull-
John Wesley, 7
Kwang Tung, 4
LANDON Ronald, Sir, 84
Legal proceedings, 24
Leon Scott, 12
London String Quartette, 90
Magnus, Albertus, 6
Making a record, 62
Manufacture of munitions by
Gramophone Co., Ltd., 75
Manufacturing a disc, 69
Marvellous automaton, 9
Master, the, 24
Mechanical flute-player, 6
Melba, Dame Nellie, 88
Michaelis, Dr., 34
Motors, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
NAME talking machine, 1
National Phonograph Co., 39
Needles, 54, 55, 56
Needle tension attachment, 58
Neophone, the, 35
ODEON records, 39
Patents of phonograph by
Pathe Freres, 35, 77, 78, 91
Patti, Adelina, 85
Philip Reiss, 15
Phonaugraph, the name, 15
Photophone, the, 36
Primitive man, 1
Prince Consort, 14
QUEEN Victoria, 14
RECORDING machine, 68
- the guns at Lille, 93
Reiss, Philip, 13
Reproduction of sound, 13
Ricketts, M. E., 95
Ronald, Sir Landon, 84
Rotary club, 108
SANCTUM sanctorum of the
Sapphire, diamond and glass
Scholes, Percy, 104
Scott, Leon, 13
Seymour, Henry, 13
Sharp, Cecil, 109
Shorthand Record Co., 41
Singing birds, 92
- boxes, 48
- waves, 11
Spear-point needles, 60
Sphinx, the, 2
Sponge, wonderful, 7
Sterling, Louis, 39
Stylus bar, 49
Synchronization with kine-
Tainter, Charles Sumner, 23
& Bell, 24
Talking machine, name, 1
Telephone, first, 15
Terry, Ellen, 91
Timms, Chas. E., 95
Tree, Sir H. Beerbohm, 90
Tungsten needles, 60
ULLMANN, C. & J., 39
Vibratory diaphragm, 14
Victoria, Queen, 14
WAR between Edison Bell and
Edison United, 40
Welsh schools, 107
Wesley, John, 7
Williams, Bransby, 91
Willis, Percy, 28
Wonderful sponge, 7
Wood, Sir Henry J., 90
YEAR of great events, 39
ZONOPHONE Co., the British, 39
Printed in Bath, England, by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd.
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